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RazorChain
2016-03-24, 10:41 PM
I think the distinction OldTrees1 is getting at has to do with Actual Player Agency vs Percieved Player Agency. Percieved Player Agency is the agency the Players feel they have within the game.

From the Players perspective, if their actions (and informed inaction) has consequences within the game world, they have the perception of agency. This often times overlaps with Actual Player Agency, but not always.

Actual Player Agency is more from the DMs perspective. How much do the players' actions affect the world outside of their knowledge as well as within. If the players are unaware of a choice they make and it still affects the game world, they have actual agency within the game.

Compare these two encounters:
There are bandits waiting outside of the town. The PCs leave on the north road and encounter the bandits. Had they left on the south road they also would have encountered the bandits.
There are bandits preying on travellers that leave the town. They have scouts watching the roads out of town with a strike force ready to move in when their quarry is spotted. The PCs leave on the east road, and are quickly spotted by the scouts (who made a Spot check against the PCs who were not actively hiding). The striker party moves in, and several minutes later, and several hundred meters out of town, the PCs encounter the bandits. The PCs are given the opportunity to make checks to notice the incoming bandits before they meet on the road and to react accordingly. Had they left on the south road, the same would happen (unless the PCs were hiding or the bandits failed their checks, etc).

Now, from the players' perspectives, they had the same amount of agency, but in the second example there was much more of an in-game effect by the PCs. I agree that there is not much of a difference practically (and that much of that difference is in level of detail), but there is a difference. Namely, the second example is a living world the Players just happen to be a part of.

Is this what you are trying to emphasize, OldTrees1?

I think this has nothing to do with railroading....this discussion has been derailed (no pun intended)
Now we are discussing Sandbox vs Narrative (or non sandbox)

For me if those bandits aren't a part of a greater story arc, then they are just mooks for the PC's to dispose of. I'm catering to the combat players who want to whet their blades in the blood of their enemies. How I place them makes no difference to me or the players as long they are placed in a believable manner.

If this is the start or a part of a plot, then the same applies. Place them in a believable manner. The player agency will always be how they react, do they spot them or will they get ambushed (perception roll). Will the PC's give up their gold, fast talk themselves out of the situation, fight or spot the bandits and sneak around them. The plot may be trivial or bigger, maybe the people in town want to get rid of the bandits? Maybe a criminal kingpin is punishing the local merchants for not paying protection and hired those bandits? Who knows?

But at the moment we are just discussing how we place our hooks. If I say to my players: "No you must go south because there is the start of the adventure" Then I'm railroading, or all the gates are closed except the south gate.

OldTrees1
2016-03-24, 10:56 PM
I see what you're saying. But from my POV, if the bandits on the west road are not foreshadowed in any way - the PCs either couldn't or didn't do anything to gain a hint of their presence - then the bandits aren't actually on the west road at all. They aren't anywhere. Only what the players have discovered about the world is real; the rest is just a bunch of ideas that the DM might or might not eventually decide to use.

On a different but related note, do you see a difference between a DM moving a set encounter with bandits from the west road to the north road, and the DM creating a wandering encounter with bandits that the players have X% chance of running into no matter what route they take?

From my PoV, whatever the DM has generated in the world is real. This difference of perspective nicely explains why our positions differ.

A random encounter happening to turn out to be generic bandits is different than the encounter with specific bandits being moved to whichever direction the PCs go.

But you are asking about a chance to encounter the specific band after it has been moved to whichever direction the PCs go. I see a difference in probability but not in motive or means.

Talakeal
2016-03-24, 11:17 PM
This is no longer about railroading imo, this is now about narrative driven play vs sandbox play and improv DMing vs. prep DMing.

Neither one is better or worse, just different, and when people are throwing around terms like "violation of trust" and "moral decay" it makes a discussion over opinions into something much more emotionally charged than it needs to be.



I am genuinly curious about the concept of blind agency though. For people who believe agency is a good thing even if they have no way of knowing about it, how would you feel if seemingly random things determined the plot? Like, say, if you order wine with dinner the ogres will invade the tavern but if you lrder beer it will be the evil wizard? Or wearing your red shirt means you will find buried treasure but wearing your green shirt means you will stumble upon a pit trap?

The comment about the Mario Brothers three mushroom house really got me thinking about the illusion of choice and the meaning of agency.

JoeJ
2016-03-24, 11:36 PM
From my PoV, whatever the DM has generated in the world is real. This difference of perspective nicely explains why our positions differ.

A random encounter happening to turn out to be generic bandits is different than the encounter with specific bandits being moved to whichever direction the PCs go.

But you are asking about a chance to encounter the specific band after it has been moved to whichever direction the PCs go. I see a difference in probability but not in motive or means.

So it matters whether it's generic bandits or a specific band? But bandits tend to move around a lot. Why can't the DM have Valeria the Bandit Queen on a random encounter table instead of trying to track her specific movements?

OldTrees1
2016-03-24, 11:52 PM
So it matters whether it's generic bandits or a specific band? But bandits tend to move around a lot. Why can't the DM have Valeria the Bandit Queen on a random encounter table instead of trying to track her specific movements?

I was trying to use generic vs specific to highlight the difference between a random encounter and an encounter the DM selected & is trying to force regardless of PC direction. In hindsight that word choice was bad.

Word choice question: "Can't"? My preferences do not make claims about what you can or can't do.

1 person being on random encounter tables for 4 different locations at the same exact moment? Quantum Ogre (which I personally dislike).
1 person having a random location at a particular moment? Someone that moves around a lot.

JoeJ
2016-03-25, 12:10 AM
1 person being on random encounter tables for 4 different locations at the same exact moment? Quantum Ogre (which I personally dislike).
1 person having a random location at a particular moment? Someone that moves around a lot.

But if the character moves around between four different areas (presumably they're not that far apart), not having her on all 4 encounter tables would damage verisimilitude. Any place that Valeria sometimes goes is a place where it should be possible to encounter her.

I'm not sure what you mean by "same exact moment" though. If she turns up in one spot, then by definition she's not anywhere else. If the party splits and one of the groups encounters her, then the other one won't.

RazorChain
2016-03-25, 01:00 AM
This is no longer about railroading imo, this is now about narrative driven play vs sandbox play and improv DMing vs. prep DMing.

Neither one is better or worse, just different, and when people are throwing around terms like "violation of trust" and "moral decay" it makes a discussion over opinions into something much more emotionally charged than it needs to be.



I am genuinly curious about the concept of blind agency though. For people who believe agency is a good thing even if they have no way of knowing about it, how would you feel if seemingly random things determined the plot? Like, say, if you order wine with dinner the ogres will invade the tavern but if you lrder beer it will be the evil wizard? Or wearing your red shirt means you will find buried treasure but wearing your green shirt means you will stumble upon a pit trap?

The comment about the Mario Brothers three mushroom house really got me thinking about the illusion of choice and the meaning of agency.

I use blind agency a lot. That just means the players don't realize the true consequences of their actions until later.

Example: Now I'm running an adventure the centers around a power struggle in a Duchy between 3 different men. One is the Lord General, the second is the Duke's son and third is the Duke's spymaster. The players trust none of them but are at the moment playing double agents bouncing between the spymaster and the son. Sooner or later they will have to pick a side but they have no idea what kind of ruler their favorite will turn out to be.

They favour the son because he is a rightful heir and seems like a nice guy while he's in fact sosiopathic monster who uses his charm to deceive them. If they put him on the throne they will be in for a rude suprise.

This is blind agency, when you can't forsee the consequences.

SethoMarkus
2016-03-25, 01:39 AM
I see what you're saying. But from my POV, if the bandits on the west road are not foreshadowed in any way - the PCs either couldn't or didn't do anything to gain a hint of their presence - then the bandits aren't actually on the west road at all. They aren't anywhere. Only what the players have discovered about the world is real; the rest is just a bunch of ideas that the DM might or might not eventually decide to use.


I think this actually very nicely sets up the difference. I appendices, in a pure agency, pure sandbox, that the bandits do in fact exist even if the PCs never encounter them. Whether by choosing to avoid the encounter after learning of its potential (overhearing "There he bandits out west" in a tavern) or circumventing it by chance, they have altered one possible outcome. The bandits existed, were not dealt with, and so continued to be a problem for the town and surrounding area. The PCs had "blind agency" through inaction (and even despite ignorance of the situation).

Had it been a random encounter, there would be no ramifications for not encountering it. Had it been forced (through the DM contriving a way for the PCs to encounter the bandits no matter how they left the town), some would call that railroading or at least very forced. I am not promoting one way over another, nor am I trying to say that it's impossible to replicate alternative outcomes in a non-pure sandbox, but I hope this illustrates the difference in player agency within the world between the various versions of this encounter.

(And, for the record, my group tends more towards perceived agency and a lower Actual Player Agency is just fine with us. We usually DM with the Rule of Cool at the forefront, and will make changes within the game accordingly, so don't mistake me for endorsing any particular style.)

goto124
2016-03-25, 02:58 AM
They favour the son because he is a rightful heir and seems like a nice guy while he's in fact a sociopathic monster who uses his charm to deceive them. If they put him on the throne they will be in for a rude surprise.

This is blind agency, when you can't foresee the consequences.

Quantum Ogres are bad when the players are deliberately trying to avoid the ogre. I suppose the players get a fair chance to realize the son is not the nice guy he appears to be?

If every evidence points to the son being all nice and good, but changes entirely once he's on the throne, that isn't fair because the players did all they can to avoid throning the wrong person, but are tricked into doing so anyway. Akin to them doing thorough research, deciding to avoid the Road of Ogres and go on the Road of Rainbows and Candy instead, and end up running into the Ogres anyway.

If on the other hand, the players did not perform research, it could be fair to let them fail. But I'm not sure what you mean by "can't foresee the consequences". Do they not get the chance to have a reasonable gauge of the situation, to predict with reasonable accuracy what will happen if they throne this guy or that guy? Is that not the point of the game?


The bandits existed, were not dealt with, and so continued to be a problem for the town and surrounding area. The PCs had "blind agency" through inaction (and even despite ignorance of the situation).

To be honest, this seems fairly weird. On one hand, they performed an action (avoiding the bandits) that was meant to produce a positive effect (no encounter with the bandits) but ended up with a negative effect (bandits attack the western town, leaving the shopkeeper there with nothing to sell when the PCs head there later on) as well. Overuse of negative side effects can make the players wonder why their informed(?) decisions are never really positive, plus the negative sides are stuff that can't be foreseen - at least if a PC decides to burn down a forest to catch a thief, the negative effects are easily seen.

On the other hand, the PCs may never head to the western town at all, which could mean the bandits there don't affect them at all - aka, the negative effect isn't really negative.

In addition, how does a GM keep track of all of these little things?

Amphetryon
2016-03-25, 07:47 AM
A random encounter happening to turn out to be generic bandits is different than the encounter with specific bandits being moved to whichever direction the PCs go.

In what way is it different, from the PC's perspective? How will they know which type of encounter they are facing?

Milo v3
2016-03-25, 08:03 AM
In what way is it different, from the PC's perspective? How will they know which type of encounter they are facing?

He already answered this ages ago.... He wont know that is different. But that doesn't change the fact that is a breach of trust for him. If you steal from someone and they don't notice, that doesn't change the fact that you stole something and the person would become angered if they were to become aware of it.

Segev
2016-03-25, 09:40 AM
It sounds to me like OldTrees wants "plot encounters" to be at least broadly pre-placed on the map - both literal and narrative - so that players have to head in the right direction to run into them. But is okay with "I have this generic encounter/scene/element that can be any inn/random encounter/NPC they meet; hey, the party has sought an inn/run into an encounter/met an NPC that this could work for, so slot it right on in."

I'm not entirely sure I know where the dividing line between "cool scene that could go in any of these kinds of places" and "plot-important scene that could go in any of these places" is, in his mind. But that's probably why the "big gray area."

I mean, "Clue-Carrying NPC #2" could be on a random encounter table that is valid for a bunch of different areas, and the clue he carries is meant to point to The Bandit Queen. Is that acceptable, or is the fact that the PCs can encounter "Clue-Carrying NPC #2" just about anywhere they're likely to go not acceptable?

Would it be "better" if it was the same clue, but Clue-Carrying NPC #1 is a blacksmith in town, #2 is an urchin in the big city, #3 is a band of roving bandits' leader, #4 is a merchant they can meet on the road, #5 is a cleric at the village church, etc.?

OldTrees1
2016-03-25, 10:05 AM
It sounds to me like OldTrees wants "plot encounters" to be at least broadly pre-placed on the map - both literal and narrative - so that players have to head in the right direction to run into them. But is okay with "I have this generic encounter/scene/element that can be any inn/random encounter/NPC they meet; hey, the party has sought an inn/run into an encounter/met an NPC that this could work for, so slot it right on in."

I'm not entirely sure I know where the dividing line between "cool scene that could go in any of these kinds of places" and "plot-important scene that could go in any of these places" is, in his mind. But that's probably why the "big gray area."

Yes, I do have that preference, but that was not the preference I was trying to talk about (assuming you are talking about 1 vs 2 as listed below). That is more of an "good"->"great" shift. I prefer preplaced, but as a DM I well know that DM time needs to be rationed (so any dividing line there would be DM time dependant). This preference is related to the preference I was trying to talk about though.

The preference I was trying to talk about was differentiation those 2 methods from "(3)I have this encounter that I want the PCs to encounter so if it is already placed I will move it to follow them and (4)if it was not already placed I will make sure it occurs regardless of PC choice(for example it happening regardless of which direction the PCs travel)".

So:
1) Pre-placing a bandit queen? Nice! The Player choices mattered!!
2) Pulling out a pregenerated bandit queen as a random encounter? Ok, let's go!
3) Moving a pre-placed bandit queen for no in game reason just to force the encounter? Ugh. Invalidated player choice.
4) Placing the bandit queen in a superposition so they are encountered regardless of player choice without an in game reason? Ugh. Invalidated player choice.
Unfortunately #2 and #4 are very similar except for 1 detail. Ex "I know the PCs will go into a city eventually. I want to run the Red Hand of Doom. So rather than start with the Red Hand of Doom, I will place it in the next city the PCs visit regardless of player choice in city to visit." Here it is the attitude(the PCs will encounter the RHoD regardless of player choice because I said so) more than the action of placing it in the city that is the problem. The difference here is whether the encountering was scripted without regard to player choice or if the encountering was a random result of a player choice.

Edit:

I mean, "Clue-Carrying NPC #2" could be on a random encounter table that is valid for a bunch of different areas, and the clue he carries is meant to point to The Bandit Queen. Is that acceptable, or is the fact that the PCs can encounter "Clue-Carrying NPC #2" just about anywhere they're likely to go not acceptable?

Would it be "better" if it was the same clue, but Clue-Carrying NPC #1 is a blacksmith in town, #2 is an urchin in the big city, #3 is a band of roving bandits' leader, #4 is a merchant they can meet on the road, #5 is a cleric at the village church, etc.?
These sound like #2 and #1 respectively.
Despite Clue-Carrying NPC #2 being pre-generated but not placed, the DM is not trying to force them to be encountered. If the PCs wander even further afield they will not encounter the NPC. If they stick around then they will only encounter the NPC by chance, otherwise the random encounter will be a different thing.
The second case is 5 pre placed NPCs that the players can encounter based upon their choices. I do consider this to be a more enjoyable method(both #1 and #2 are methods I enjoy), but DM time rationing means that sometimes the other method should be used instead.

Darth Ultron
2016-03-25, 01:05 PM
So the question is, is that railroading?

I'd argue that it absolutely isn't. It's not undermining a players choice, instead it's one of the things that made that choice matter a lot in the long run. There was no rail there, the entire concept that someone might come after the PCs for murdering their father in cold blood didn't even exit until that PC murdered an older guy in cold blood.

This is a railroad. The DM is saying X will happen no matter what. Sure the DM is trying to hide behind the fact that it was ''improvised'', it is a ''consequence'' of the PC's actions, the DM can say ''it's an NPC doing it not me'' and the DM can say he does not ''want'' to do it.




So, would changing that be railroading? The future, altered smugglers could change what the PCs were doing pretty dramatically, if they happened to rise to relevance first. I'd argue that it's a clear no, but it sounded like your original definition might include things like that, and maybe be a bit iffy. Given the reaction to other examples, I doubt it's intended to,

The DM can change anything. And anything they change might not be ''railroading'', but it is sure ''laying the tracks''.




That's absolutely an important facet. I'm certainly not suggesting that doing something like coming up with a cool inn and then trying to force the group to go to the inn isn't railroading. I'm just saying that maintaining a flexible library of people and places that can be used instead of improvisation for the same situation isn't, and that it's also a good idea for people who work better with planning.

So having a dozen premade cool places is not railroading, but having just one is?




Now, from the players' perspectives, they had the same amount of agency, but in the second example there was much more of an in-game effect by the PCs. I agree that there is not much of a difference practically (and that much of that difference is in level of detail), but there is a difference. Namely, the second example is a living world the Players just happen to be a part of.


Having bandits outside of town that the PC's will encounter no matter what is really classic railroading. I guess the DM can come up will lots of reasons or excuses to try to make themselves feel better, but that does not change the fact that it's railroading.

And yes, the players have no choice (or ''agency'') as it does come down to ''if you want to play this game this encounter will happen''. Or everyone just sits around and does nothing.


Again, could you - or someone - please clarify how the Players will know the difference between a Type A encounter and a Type B encounter, barring access to the DM's notes? One borders on unacceptable, while the other is perfectly fine, yet both will look remarkably similar as encounters to the PCs (and will be entirely invisible if their 'opportunities' do not arise).

Good question.

Both the A and B players could whine and cry railroad. Sure the DM can curl up into a ball and hold up all his notes and say ''see'', but the DM would have to stop and do this every couple of minutes of game time.



Superposition: The PCs are in a forest. They have to choose a direction. DM decides that regardless of Player choice, they will encounter the bandit queen without an in game reason for Player choice to not affect the matter.

My understanding of Library: The PCs wander into a forest. They run into a forest encounter. The DM selects one of their "forest encounters" from their library. It is a bandit queen.

Are those really the same thing?

Look the same to me.


He already answered this ages ago.... He wont know that is different. But that doesn't change the fact that is a breach of trust for him. If you steal from someone and they don't notice, that doesn't change the fact that you stole something and the person would become angered if they were to become aware of it.

So is it a ''breach of trust'' if they never know?

Amphetryon
2016-03-25, 01:31 PM
He already answered this ages ago.... He wont know that is different. But that doesn't change the fact that is a breach of trust for him. If you steal from someone and they don't notice, that doesn't change the fact that you stole something and the person would become angered if they were to become aware of it.

As that answer provides precious little insight that I can glean as to how to prepare good rather than bad encounters (or even 'great rather than good' encounters, per some later commentary), I'm trying to figure out how this metric can be reasonably applied in order to achieve that desired goal. Few GMs I have ever met seek to design bad or otherwise unsatisfying encounters. I want to use this metric in some fashion toward building good/great encounters. I have yet to grok how this is plausible.

Knaight
2016-03-25, 01:43 PM
This is a railroad. The DM is saying X will happen no matter what. Sure the DM is trying to hide behind the fact that it was ''improvised'', it is a ''consequence'' of the PC's actions, the DM can say ''it's an NPC doing it not me'' and the DM can say he does not ''want'' to do it.

Yeah, no. It wasn't going to happen no matter what until it happened, and it only happened because of a series of really dumb decisions.

OldTrees1
2016-03-25, 02:26 PM
As that answer provides precious little insight that I can glean as to how to prepare good rather than bad encounters (or even 'great rather than good' encounters, per some later commentary), I'm trying to figure out how this metric can be reasonably applied in order to achieve that desired goal. Few GMs I have ever met seek to design bad or otherwise unsatisfying encounters. I want to use this metric in some fashion toward building good/great encounters. I have yet to grok how this is plausible.

I see. Let's try explaining it a different way:

Let us say that you have a player with a preference.
Let us say that you, as the GM, know about this preference.
Let us say that you indicate to the player that you wish to fulfill that preference.
If all 3 are true, then don't go against that preference.
Notice how all of that was stated from the GM's PoV with the GM using their knowledge of the Player's preferences? Please Grok this, the only alternative would be to describe preferences about agency using multiple branching timelines. It is highly important to understand we are talking about the information available to the GM and not the information available to the PC.

As a player, I happen to dislike Quantum Ogres.
My DM, as a DM, knows about this preference.
My DM has agreed not to use Quantum Ogres.
Since all 3 of these are true, my DM should not use Quantum Ogres regardless of the fact that Quantum Ogres cannot be perceived from the limited information available to the Players. I trust my DM and thus expect that they are not using Quantum Ogres. I also expect that this trust is well founded.

So the answer you want that is useful to making encounters your player will not be bothered by is:
Listen to your players' preferences and then avoid betraying those preferences even when the betrayal would be invisible to your players' senses.

Are you satisfied now?!:smallannoyed:

Darth Ultron
2016-03-25, 02:48 PM
Yeah, no. It wasn't going to happen no matter what until it happened, and it only happened because of a series of really dumb decisions.

This is just the deflecting. The Dm saying they had no ''plan'' and it ''somehow'' just happened, but that they had nothing to do with it.



Are you satisfied now?!:smallannoyed:

Makes sense to me.

Though I'd wonder how a normal non-sandbox game is run with no Railroading, Quantum Ogres, story, plot or the DM ''wanting'' or ''planning'' on doing anything.

If you have an answer, just remember it can't have:

A)Anything done to the PC's that they can't not avoid or nullify easily.
B)Can't even have a basic story or plot. This does include plot hooks too.
C)Can't have the utterly stupid ''consequence'' or ''the NPC did it'' defense. This is where the DM does something, but hides behind a consequence (''The PC's stole the diamond so the cops will come after them'') or a NPC's actions(''Lord Othorn wants to hunt down all magic users, not me the DM'').


As that answer provides precious little insight that I can glean as to how to prepare good rather than bad encounters (or even 'great rather than good' encounters, per some later commentary), I'm trying to figure out how this metric can be reasonably applied in order to achieve that desired goal. Few GMs I have ever met seek to design bad or otherwise unsatisfying encounters. I want to use this metric in some fashion toward building good/great encounters. I have yet to grok how this is plausible.

I doubt that they can give you one. After all their basic argument is that good encounters just kinda sorta happen.

Lost in Hyrule
2016-03-25, 03:27 PM
OldTrees' issue makes sense, even if a lot of us wouldn't be bothered by it. If the table agrees that there will be no fudging of numbers, then it is a breach of trust to do so. Maybe he simply raised the AC by one for a single enemy on a non-important attack, and the entire game resolves almost the same as if that attack had hit, and the players may never notice, but it's still going against their agreement.

Actually, the discussion between OldTrees and the others illustrates a good point: "Railroading" is on a spectrum. OldTrees is extremely sensitive to it (I am not intending insult by saying that), others of us aren't quite as sensitive as he is, but would still notice it in ways that other people would see as trivial. Railroading exists when a DM actively negates player choices AND players feel as though their choices don't matter. That line is very different for different groups.

Note that responding to a player's choice is not the same as negating it. The DM's entire job is to respond to player actions.

When it comes to a campaign module, I don't believe that all of them are 'railroads by design.' Many do establish a linear sequence of events. That only becomes a railroad if it requires forcing the players to do something, or the DM does so when faced with unexpected actions. I don't know that a campaign module can train someone the proper way to DM. People just need to be reminded, "You are in control of the world. When your players do something, decide how the world reacts. Try to make it a believable reaction."

Mordar
2016-03-25, 03:32 PM
Interestingly enough, I have yet to find a single player that prefers to be railroaded over not being so. Even if they want simple and straightforward fights, they still prefer a non-railroading game. If they think they do, and is introduced to the alternative, they've always preferred the alternative.

Isn't this that form of bias from a leading question? Sort of like the difference between asking "Do you like school?" and "Do you like being confined to a room for several hours five days a week being told things and being required to produce work without monetary compensation?". You'll get a range of answers on the first question, but almost everyone is going to say "Heck no!" to the second.

I know of lots of very entertaining modules that can be easily modified to fit in a number of places/campaigns/settings, and that provide for a very entertaining time for GM and player alike. Just because something was built by someone else doesn't mean it isn't good, and certainly doesn't mean that it can't be experienced by players without stripping them of decisions. Of course, there are plenty of horrible pre-built modules too...


My group is based on trust. Trust can be violated without the victim becoming aware.


North leads towards the mountains. West leads towards the ocean. The DM placed some bandits on the west road. The PCs went north. The PC's choice was not random nor were both options identical(towards mountains vs towards ocean). Invalidating the choice by moving the bandits from the west road to the north road for no in game reason and merely to force an encounter is what I am talking about.

You consider the PC's choice to be a meaningless choice devoid of player agency. I don't. At this point I agree to disagree.

This is a response in general, though caused by OldTrees specifically.

From my perspective, agency in the case above was in no way violated and by extension neither was trust. I believe the general compact between players and GM is for an interesting and collaborative experience within a game system that entertains and, to varying degrees, challenges each party. The decision made was to travel north...perhaps to go to the mountains. Something happening on that road does not invalidate the choice...the road still leads to the mountains. If the decision was to travel north to go to the mountains and avoid the bandits to the west, and the bandits appear without justification, then I agree.

The question, I guess, hinges on the compact. My default compact is stated above (players and GM working collaboratively to create an interesting and entertaining experience. It does not include an expectation that encounters/events/hooks will be geographically placed and that by chance they may be encountered or not (by chance I mean the selection of North vs. West when the decision was in no way predicated on the encounters...it may not be chance that the route chosen was North...just that by chance that avoided the potential Western encounter). As such, there was no breach of trust in the re-placement of the encounter. I think (and suspect OldTrees would agree) that his compact is not the norm and probably shouldn't be considered as such. Nor, for the record, do I think my default compact is the norm...but may be more common.

To tie this back to the original discussion, and the bit from Lorsa above, the compact speaks volumes about what is or is not railroading. Maybe it isn't quite like pornography ("I know it when I see it"), but I do think that its perception depends greatly on the compact, and as many others have mentioned, is on a spectrum.

Talakeal
2016-03-25, 03:38 PM
As a player, I happen to dislike Quantum Ogres.
My DM, as a DM, knows about this preference.
My DM has agreed not to use Quantum Ogres.
Since all 3 of these are true, my DM should not use Quantum Ogres regardless of the fact that Quantum Ogres cannot be perceived from the limited information available to the Players. I trust my DM and thus expect that they are not using Quantum Ogres. I also expect that this trust is well founded.

So the answer you want that is useful to making encounters your player will not be bothered by is:
Listen to your players' preferences and then avoid betraying those preferences even when the betrayal would be invisible to your players' senses.

Are you satisfied now?!:smallannoyed:

If all three of those are true, then yes, it is probably a betrayal of trust.

However, your request is not a reasonable one. You are, in essence, thought policing your DM and wanting him to run a game in compliance with your wishes even when it is objectively identical to a game that violates your preferences.

I personally would just say "No." if you can into my game and made this request. I imagine you would then leave, and if I was short on players I might try and see if we can reach a compromise, but I would never agree to your conditions*.

I wouldn't do it, as it is dishonest and patronizing, but as your request is unreasonable and objectively irrelevant, I wouldn't really think bad of a DM who lied to you. In my mind it is simply the grownup version of a parent who tells a child that their dead dog went to live on a farm or who insists they perform a nightly patrol of the basement for monsters to put the child's mind at ease even if they have done no such thing because they know monsters don't exist.
Now, a parent and a child have a different relationship than two people who are (presumably) adult friends, and thus shouldn't have to lie to each other about such things, but then again they also shouldn't try and police what goes on in the other person's head.



*: My players don't do well in a sandbox game. None of them are of the "builder" or "explorer" types and just sit around bored every time I put them in a sandbox situation. They also take advantage of it, wanting to simply sit around training, crafting items, doing spell research, and taking a full recovery after every minor encounters, which makes it a bitch to balance resources in the game**.
I also am not a good improve DM and run a system where NPCs need stat-blocks. It doesn't take me long to come up with an encounter, maybe 3-5 minutes, but if I need to populate an entire kingdom with such encounters that is a ton of work, and if 95% of these encounters are going to be skipped over that is a lot of wasted work. And, the players might decide to leave the kingdom, so I would need to prep an entire world, which there literally aren't enough hours in the day for. And once the players can access planar travel and explore the entire multiverse if they so choose...
And I commute over a thousand miles for my game, no exaggeration, and I like to use miniatures. It is impossible for me to bring my entire collection with me when I travel, instead I need to pick out one or two cases to put in models for the PCs and the NPCs they are most likely to encounter. This would be impossible in a pure sandbox.

**: One time I gave my PCs an artifact that allowed them to travel through time. I expected them to use it to go on fantastic adventures in other times and places. Instead they put themselves into a groundhog day scenario where they lived the same period of time over and over again and said they would spend that time training hard and wouldn't leave until they were max level. When I told them they wouldn't get experience for it there was a riot and the game disintegrated.

OldTrees1
2016-03-25, 03:44 PM
Actually, the discussion between OldTrees and the others illustrates a good point: "Railroading" is on a spectrum. OldTrees is extremely sensitive to it (I am not intending insult by saying that), others of us aren't quite as sensitive as he is, but would still notice it in ways that other people would see as trivial. Railroading exists when a DM actively negates player choices AND players feel as though their choices don't matter. That line is very different for different groups.

Note that responding to a player's choice is not the same as negating it. The DM's entire job is to respond to player actions.

When it comes to a campaign module, I don't believe that all of them are 'railroads by design.' Many do establish a linear sequence of events. That only becomes a railroad if it requires forcing the players to do something, or the DM does so when faced with unexpected actions. I don't know that a campaign module can train someone the proper way to DM. People just need to be reminded, "You are in control of the world. When your players do something, decide how the world reacts. Try to make it a believable reaction."

Good point about the spectrum (no offense taken).

Sidenote: I think Darth is the only one currently considering response to be railroading rather than required and demonstrative of player agency.

As for campaign modules, all of them are plans. A plan will eventually have limits. Attempting to stick to the plan when the PCs move past its limits is a temptation that modules have for DMs. So adding reminders and advice for how the DM can handle these situations is a wise addition.

Lost in Hyrule
2016-03-25, 03:46 PM
**: One time I gave my PCs an artifact that allowed them to travel through time. I expected them to use it to go on fantastic adventures in other times and places. Instead they put themselves into a groundhog day scenario where they lived the same period of time over and over again and said they would spend that time training hard and wouldn't leave until they were max level. When I told them they wouldn't get experience for it there was a riot and the game disintegrated.

In my campaign, there is an alternate dimension known as the Dreamscape. Time fluctuates there, but on on average, 1 hour in the normal world is about 1 day there. And the players have an entrance to this plane about a 4 hour march from their hometown. So, I accidentally a Hyperbolic Time Chamber. But the events of the world will likely be taking them away from here in the near future, so I'm hoping it doesn't distract the game! They did recently go to it because 'We've got three days before our boat leaves. Let's go explore!' Then I thought, "What have I done..." So I feel your pain, at least preemptively!

EDIT: Oldtrees, that last paragraph is an excellent summary. Great point! "No plan survives first contact with your players."

OldTrees1
2016-03-25, 03:55 PM
If all three of those are true, then yes, it is probably a betrayal of trust.

However, your request is not a reasonable one. You are, in essence, thought policing your DM and wanting him to run a game in compliance with your wishes even when it is objectively identical to a game that violates your preferences.

1) Whether the request is reasonable or not is up to the person the request is being made of. Please don't presume your opinion of the request is the same as mine(when I DM) or my DM's(when they DM).

2) Please remember why I mentioned that it would be a betrayal of trust. Segev asked if Quantum Ogres would still bother me if they were imperceptible from the limited information of the players. My answer was "Technically no, effectively yes". The reason being technically I would be unaware but my DM knows my preferences and thus effectively(due to the DM possessing a Theory of Mind) I would be bothered because I would be bothered if I knew. (Yes, for those following along, this whole debacle started with a hypothetical being used to give a precise answer to a hypothetical question) Since my DM knows I would be bothered if they did use a Quantum Ogre if I knew, they have avoided using Quantum Ogres.

3) The 2 games are not objectively identical. A brief examination of the cause and effect chain visible to the DM should make that obvious. Did you mean "observably" rather than "objectively"? Due to having a brain that can grasp 4 dimensions (a human trait), it can conceptualize the difference between the 2 games (just as humans can conceptualize 4D objects that cannot be observed in 3D).

I recognize that you want to use Quantum Ogres. That is fine, and I am sure that your group enjoys your games and that they are build on a foundation of trust. Please extend me half the courtesy I extend you. :smallannoyed: (Edit: If that is still too high a bar, then extend a fourth)

JoeJ
2016-03-25, 04:20 PM
1) Whether the request is reasonable or not is up to the person the request is being made of. Please don't presume your opinion of the request is the same as mine(when I DM) or my DM's(when they DM).

Yes, it is. You may think that you're making a reasonable request, but if the person you're making it of does not agree, the chances are slim that it will be granted.

For me, my preference when I DM is that the players not try to tell me how to create the world. Telling me what they'd like to see in the world is fine. I want that. But I don't appreciate them telling me what creative process I ought to go through to get there. I don't consider it any of their business whether an encounter was specifically placed or rolled randomly, whether a description was improvised or written out ahead of time, or whether something they encounter is my original idea or the fifteenth revision. So I would see your request as unreasonable, and be unlikely to agree to it for that reason. Even more so because it conflicts with my creative style, which would make it very much harder to create an interesting world for the game.

Talakeal
2016-03-25, 04:49 PM
1) Whether the request is reasonable or not is up to the person the request is being made of. Please don't presume your opinion of the request is the same as mine(when I DM) or my DM's(when they DM).

2) Please remember why I mentioned that it would be a betrayal of trust. Segev asked if Quantum Ogres would still bother me if they were imperceptible from the limited information of the players. My answer was "Technically no, effectively yes". The reason being technically I would be unaware but my DM knows my preferences and thus effectively(due to the DM possessing a Theory of Mind) I would be bothered because I would be bothered if I knew. (Yes, for those following along, this whole debacle started with a hypothetical being used to give a precise answer to a hypothetical question) Since my DM knows I would be bothered if they did use a Quantum Ogre if I knew, they have avoided using Quantum Ogres.

3) The 2 games are not objectively identical. A brief examination of the cause and effect chain visible to the DM should make that obvious. Did you mean "observably" rather than "objectively"? Due to having a brain that can grasp 4 dimensions (a human trait), it can conceptualize the difference between the 2 games (just as humans can conceptualize 4D objects that cannot be observed in 3D).

I recognize that you want to use Quantum Ogres. That is fine, and I am sure that your group enjoys your games and that they are build on a foundation of trust. Please extend me half the courtesy I extend you. :smallannoyed: (Edit: If that is still too high a bar, then extend a fourth)

I was using "objective" to mean exists in physical reality outside of people's imaginations. If you want to substitute observable go ahead, it doesn't change my point.

I never said your group was doing it wrong or anything of that nature. If you are all in agreement about the rules of the game more power to you.

What I said was that, in my oppinion, it was not a reasonable request to make of someone who had a different play style.

To use a ridiculous example, say I demanded that my Game Master run the session while wearing spider-man underwear. If my DM already owned a pair of such underwear and liked to wear it and had no problem with strangers asking about his underwear, he would agree. However, if I came to most tables and asked the DM to wear such underwear they would probably think it an extremely odd request and an unreasonable imposition and refuse. I also wouldn't think ill of someone who desperately needed another player and claimed to be wearing spider-man underwear even though, unbeknownst to me, they were actually wearing their normal undergarments safely hidden inside their pants.


Also, I generally don't use quantum ogres. Instead some encounters are based on time, some on events, and some on locations. I might have an ogre that the PCs encounter if they go into the black forest, an ogre that will approach the PCs on Wednesday afternoon, or an ogre that will approach anyone who is looking for a guide through the kingdom of Ogrestadt.

For example, in the adventure I am currently working on I have four encounters. One of which will happen based on events (a pirate encounter which will occur if they take a ship) a time encounter (a group of survivors from the last adventure who have been tracking down the PCs and will find them on a certain date) and two location based encounters, one based on a specific location which the PCs will travel to, and one based on a generic town that I haven't nailed down the location or details about yet. The latter might qualify as a "quantum ogre" or it might just be a pregenerated hook that I plan to drop in the first town the PCs stop at on the road, still not quite sure about the distinction.

Now, back to the topic of railroading, all of these encounters are probable ones. If the PCs take reasonable steps to avoid them they can, IMO it is only if I force the encounters on them anyway that it becomes a breach of player agency.

Out of curiosity, do you also object to DM's who recycle old adventures? Either ones they ran for a different group or which they intended to run but never got a chance to?

Darth Ultron
2016-03-25, 05:47 PM
Sidenote: I think Darth is the only one currently considering response to be railroading rather than required and demonstrative of player agency.

It's just the classic ''what I do is exactly like railroading in every single way, except maybe one meaningless point, so I can say I don't railroad."


If all three of those are true, then yes, it is probably a betrayal of trust.

However, your request is not a reasonable one. You are, in essence, thought policing your DM and wanting him to run a game in compliance with your wishes even when it is objectively identical to a game that violates your preferences.

I agree. I think it's very odd for a player to make such a request on the DM. And even more so, how many requests can a player make? And does each player get to make at least one? So you'd have a poor DM stuck by several requests?



I personally would just say "No." if you can into my game and made this request. I imagine you would then leave, and if I was short on players I might try and see if we can reach a compromise, but I would never agree to your conditions.

I'd say ''no'' too, but there would be no room for compromise. Unless the player was willing to delude themselves with ''just do it so I don't see it.''



I wouldn't do it, as it is dishonest and patronizing, but as your request is unreasonable and objectively irrelevant, I wouldn't really think bad of a DM who lied to you.

A ''lie'' by a DM is more like a light untruth. It's not in any way hostile and meant to be in any way bad for the players. It's a lot like most fiction that has something like a ''unknown masked figure'' who is later revealed to be ''surprise X''. You can't have the surprise without a lie. It's like when you trick and lie to someone to get them to their own surprise party.




EDIT: Oldtrees, that last paragraph is an excellent summary. Great point! "No plan survives first contact with your players."

I don't think this quote is true. Sure it might happen to some plans, sometimes, with some players....but it's not an all the time sort of thing. Any plan should really be flexible enough so that the players can't really ''go crazy''.

Talakeal
2016-03-25, 06:14 PM
It's just the classic ''what I do is exactly like railroading in every single way, except maybe one meaningless point, so I can say I don't railroad."

Except the "meaningless point" is the definition of the word.

That's like saying "Ah, the classic insisting your dog is a mammal not a reptile just because it has warm blood, fur, mammary glands, and bears live young" or "Ah, the classic insisting this man is a murderer just because he killed those people."

Darth Ultron
2016-03-25, 06:35 PM
Except the "meaningless point" is the definition of the word.

That's like saying "Ah, the classic insisting your dog is a mammal not a reptile just because it has warm blood, fur, mammary glands, and bears live young" or "Ah, the classic insisting this man is a murderer just because he killed those people."

It's a bit more like the theoretical ''the event just happened '' and the DM attempting to claim ''they did nothing'' when they did a lot of things.

DM makes a plot about ''folks that want to kill the Pc's for some reason'' and has that plot happen: Railroad.

Dm makes random stuff, waits for the PC's to do any action then has a NPC react to that action and ''want to kill the PCs'' and makes that plot happen: Not a railroad.

Milo v3
2016-03-25, 06:53 PM
It's a bit more like the theoretical ''the event just happened '' and the DM attempting to claim ''they did nothing'' when they did a lot of things.
This is the thing I find funny about your argument. We never claim we're not doing anything, we're just claiming that we aren't doing a specific thing when our actions aren't that specific thing :smalltongue:

Cosi
2016-03-25, 07:03 PM
It's just the classic ''what I do is exactly like railroading in every single way, except maybe one meaningless point, so I can say I don't railroad."

"It's exactly like the thing it's not, except for all the ways its different."


I agree. I think it's very odd for a player to make such a request on the DM. And even more so, how many requests can a player make? And does each player get to make at least one? So you'd have a poor DM stuck by several requests?

When people play a game, it is totally reasonable for them to make requests about the game, whether they are the player or the DM. Just as the DM can say "I'd like to run a game where you're all fixers for House Cannith, please take at Least Dragonmark on your characters", players can say "I'd like to play a game about kingdom building." And the game that ultimately happens should try to fulfill as many of those requests as possible. I don't know whether OldTrees' request is reasonable (I've only seen Quantum Bears Ogres used in the context of Apocalypse World, so it's not clear to me what he means), but he is 100% within his rights to make that request.


I don't think this quote is true. Sure it might happen to some plans, sometimes, with some players....but it's not an all the time sort of thing. Any plan should really be flexible enough so that the players can't really ''go crazy''.

Having a plan that adapts to player action is exactly what everyone else in this thread (also: the entire world) describes as "not railroading". Are you really so obsessed with forcing the players to play the game you want that you insist on using terminology that means the exact opposite of what you are doing?

ImNotTrevor
2016-03-25, 07:07 PM
It's a bit more like the theoretical ''the event just happened '' and the DM attempting to claim ''they did nothing'' when they did a lot of things.

DM makes a plot about ''folks that want to kill the Pc's for some reason'' and has that plot happen: Railroad.

Dm makes random stuff, waits for the PC's to do any action then has a NPC react to that action and ''want to kill the PCs'' and makes that plot happen: Not a railroad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv8ToDEijm8

Watch the first 15 or so minutes of this for a really good discussion from the co-creator of Dungeon World about the differences between the DM claiming ALL narrative authority and the DM disclaiming a large portion of his narrative authority, and why there are differences between the two. If you still don't get it after watching that, then you are either doing a brilliant trolling job (which I congratulate) or you have a severe failing in your brain that probably causes you to equate papercuts and beheadings as the same thing.

BayardSPSR
2016-03-25, 07:19 PM
Having a plan that adapts to player action is exactly what everyone else in this thread (also: the entire world) describes as "not railroading". Are you really so obsessed with forcing the players to play the game you want that you insist on using terminology that means the exact opposite of what you are doing?

To elaborate, people aren't using "railroading" as a synonym for "planning" or "preparation," they're using it to describe inappropriate adherence to planning or preparation, where the GM's input is the same regardless of the players' input. This is not to say that planning and preparation are inappropriate.

At the same time, I want to point out that while improvisation does involve a certain kind of making things up (as does planning, if a different kind), that does not amount to randomness - "random" being a word that means that the GM's input would have no relationship whatsoever to their prior decisions or players' choices.

RazorChain
2016-03-25, 07:29 PM
Quantum Ogres are bad when the players are deliberately trying to avoid the ogre. I suppose the players get a fair chance to realize the son is not the nice guy he appears to be?

If every evidence points to the son being all nice and good, but changes entirely once he's on the throne, that isn't fair because the players did all they can to avoid throning the wrong person, but are tricked into doing so anyway. Akin to them doing thorough research, deciding to avoid the Road of Ogres and go on the Road of Rainbows and Candy instead, and end up running into the Ogres anyway.

If on the other hand, the players did not perform research, it could be fair to let them fail. But I'm not sure what you mean by "can't foresee the consequences". Do they not get the chance to have a reasonable gauge of the situation, to predict with reasonable accuracy what will happen if they throne this guy or that guy? Is that not the point of the game?

Yes the players will have a chance to discover that the son is a sociapathic monster...if they make a little effort. But PC's are often very predictable. 1) They want to win/survive 2) They want reward 3) They want to do the right thing or not, depends on the campaign you are playing. At the moment my players are mostly focused on surviving the political machinations, achieving their goals and getting rewarded.

If they do their homework and find out what kind of person the son is then the choice of putting him on the throne ceases to be blind agency as they can forsee the consequences.



To be honest, this seems fairly weird. On one hand, they performed an action (avoiding the bandits) that was meant to produce a positive effect (no encounter with the bandits) but ended up with a negative effect (bandits attack the western town, leaving the shopkeeper there with nothing to sell when the PCs head there later on) as well. Overuse of negative side effects can make the players wonder why their informed(?) decisions are never really positive, plus the negative sides are stuff that can't be foreseen - at least if a PC decides to burn down a forest to catch a thief, the negative effects are easily seen.

On the other hand, the PCs may never head to the western town at all, which could mean the bandits there don't affect them at all - aka, the negative effect isn't really negative.

In addition, how does a GM keep track of all of these little things?

Actually this is also a thing I use a lot. It makes the world seem alive. In a CRPG the bandits will be there until the player has time to dispose of them and nothing will change. In a TTRPG the GM can either remove, escalate or keep the status quo.

The PC's know about the bandits and chose to avoid them. Now the bandits are still there. What will happen? A) Someone stops them, be it local heroes or the authorities. B) Stories of their success draws more bandits and now their are bigger and better organized. C) They are still the outside the town praying on travelers.

I use this a lot when the PC's ignore a problem/plot/scene. The the plot will be resolved but the players have no agency or impact on how it will be resolved.

SethoMarkus
2016-03-25, 08:23 PM
Having bandits outside of town that the PC's will encounter no matter what is really classic railroading. I guess the DM can come up will lots of reasons or excuses to try to make themselves feel better, but that does not change the fact that it's railroading.

And yes, the players have no choice (or ''agency'') as it does come down to ''if you want to play this game this encounter will happen''. Or everyone just sits around and does nothing.


I wouldn't normally indulge you with a response, but it's laughable how little you actually read my post. The PCs will not encounter the bandits no matter what. They will encounter the bandits if they do not attempt to avoid the bandits, as the bandits are intelligent beings preying on travelers (of which the PCs are considered).

The PCs can succeed a Spot check to notice the bandits and avoid them.

The PCs can succeed a Hide check against the bandits' Spot checks and go unnoticed.

The PCs can burrow underground to leave the town.

The PCs can fly out of town, using a Fly spell or some other means.

The PCs can teleport to their next location.

The PCs can leave the town while invisible.

The PCs can neglect to leave town.

The PCs can Plane Shift.

The PCs can leave town the same time as a trade caravan, heading in a different direction (after-all, the bandits would want the higher yield).

There are plenty of ways for the players to avoid or negate this encounter. That they fail to do so is not railroading, it is merely a consequence of their actions.




Though I'd wonder how a normal non-sandbox game is run with no Railroading, Quantum Ogres, story, plot or the DM ''wanting'' or ''planning'' on doing anything.

If you have an answer, just remember it can't have:

A)Anything done to the PC's that they can't not avoid or nullify easily.
B)Can't even have a basic story or plot. This does include plot hooks too.
C)Can't have the utterly stupid ''consequence'' or ''the NPC did it'' defense. This is where the DM does something, but hides behind a consequence (''The PC's stole the diamond so the cops will come after them'') or a NPC's actions(''Lord Othorn wants to hunt down all magic users, not me the DM'').


How about a campaign in which there is no DM, rather being run by the collaboration of the players acting merely as rule arbitrators for interactions with NPCs and non-PC actions and events, where all story (defined as the events that take place during game play) is created through player-player interaction, much like freeform roleplaying but with dice?

ImNotTrevor
2016-03-25, 11:16 PM
How about a campaign in which there is no DM, rather being run by the collaboration of the players acting merely as rule arbitrators for interactions with NPCs and non-PC actions and events, where all story (defined as the events that take place during game play) is created through player-player interaction, much like freeform roleplaying but with dice?

That would be called The Fall of Magic, which is a very neat system.
The physical version comes with a silk-screened scroll, a die, and some actual metal coins for character tokens.

And everyone/no one is the GM in that game. It's a very cool one, and I can recommend it to anyone who just wants to sit down and have collaborative storytime.

Knaight
2016-03-26, 01:12 AM
How about a campaign in which there is no DM, rather being run by the collaboration of the players acting merely as rule arbitrators for interactions with NPCs and non-PC actions and events, where all story (defined as the events that take place during game play) is created through player-player interaction, much like freeform roleplaying but with dice?

This has more railroading. Everyone is now railroading everyone else, because they are doing DM actions, and all DM actions ever are apparently railroading.

Milo v3
2016-03-26, 01:35 AM
This has more railroading. Everyone is now railroading everyone else, because they are doing DM actions, and all DM actions ever are apparently railroading.

Admittedly, sometimes very limited short-duration railroading does happen in those sorta games. Though generally it's just called god modding when you end up taking control of other peoples stuff.

Lorsa
2016-03-26, 05:19 AM
North leads towards the mountains. West leads towards the ocean. The DM placed some bandits on the west road. The PCs went north. The PC's choice was not random nor were both options identical(towards mountains vs towards ocean). Invalidating the choice by moving the bandits from the west road to the north road for no in game reason and merely to force an encounter is what I am talking about.

Since I am intrigued by your thinking, I will make some further inquiries to better understand you.

In the above case, what if the DM had placed bandits on both roads?

Alternatively, if the DM didn't know anything at all in advance and came up with the idea of bandits after the players decided on a direction?


You consider the PC's choice to be a meaningless choice devoid of player agency. I don't. At this point I agree to disagree.

What was the player's choice in the above case? To head towards the mountains. Invalidating that choice would be to have them end up at the ocean.

Alternatively, you could say "the player choice was to head towards the north to encounter the unknown but pre-planned enconters the DM has placed there". In such a case, the DM must always place everything ahead of time, which, ultimately, takes a lot of work, as the player's choices are basically infinite.



Good advice in general. I think I might be the first exception you have encountered. Which is good, since that means your players fit the playstyle you provide and you have a demonstrated a skilled grasp of that playstyle.

You prefer the low probability encounters? :smalltongue:



Having a flexible library one draws from is not railroading. (I am suddenly concerned, when did you add the word railroading into the discussion?) I have a preference for DM not enforcing encounters by moving encounters in front of the players or by surrounding the players with a superposition such that any direction triggers the encounter. Unless there are in game reasons for those.

How large does the library need to be?

Isn't the DM enforcing encounters just by the merit of deciding there should be one (as in rolling on the table)?

Do the players need to be involved in constructing the library or can the DM do so alone?

Do the players need to be aware of what library covers any area, including the probability of the DM rolling on it?

Does the library also have to change with time, or is only location fine?



Their post was couched in examples of using superpositions to enforce an encounter happening while describing how to know what shape the field is and what density to use as a minimum to collapse the superposition into the enforced encounter. They said that players tend to be okay with the superpositions provided they only collapse at high density. I am an exception to their observations to date in that I dislike the superposition despite it not being visible from the player PoV. This is fine, since it means that their DM style fits their players' preferences.

It seems to me that you also have some form of superposition, just a more narrow one.

For example, "the west" is a really large arbitrary area. For your choice to REALLY matter, you need exact coordinates (and time).

You can't avoid a wave function, there will always be some uncertainty. The question is, how large do you want it to be?



Superposition: The PCs are in a forest. They have to choose a direction. DM decides that regardless of Player choice, they will encounter the bandit queen without an in game reason for Player choice to not affect the matter.

My understanding of Library: The PCs wander into a forest. They run into a forest encounter. The DM selects one of their "forest encounters" from their library. It is a bandit queen.

Are those really the same thing?

Well, if the PCs didn't enter into the forest at all, the bandit queen would no longer be possible. So there is always player choice involved.

Unless you make your bandit queen wave function so big as to cover the entire world, but that strains credibility somewhat.


In the other case the GM uses a random encounter when the PCs action results in a random encounter.

When does the PCs actions result in a random encounter? Who decides that? Are locations pre-marked with "two random encounter rolls required on journey from A to B"?



I was trying to use generic vs specific to highlight the difference between a random encounter and an encounter the DM selected & is trying to force regardless of PC direction. In hindsight that word choice was bad.

Word choice question: "Can't"? My preferences do not make claims about what you can or can't do.

1 person being on random encounter tables for 4 different locations at the same exact moment? Quantum Ogre (which I personally dislike).
1 person having a random location at a particular moment? Someone that moves around a lot.

I don't think the DM is trying to force it regardless of direction. it is merely the case of an encounter that will happen when the PCs move in a location that could plausibly contain it. Like say "the go into the woods". If they had stayed in the city, or followed the roads, it wouldn't have happened.

Also, now I am splitting hairs, but what about 4 different Ogres being on encounter tables for 4 differetion locations?



So:
1) Pre-placing a bandit queen? Nice! The Player choices mattered!!
2) Pulling out a pregenerated bandit queen as a random encounter? Ok, let's go!
3) Moving a pre-placed bandit queen for no in game reason just to force the encounter? Ugh. Invalidated player choice.
4) Placing the bandit queen in a superposition so they are encountered regardless of player choice without an in game reason? Ugh. Invalidated player choice.
Unfortunately #2 and #4 are very similar except for 1 detail. Ex "I know the PCs will go into a city eventually. I want to run the Red Hand of Doom. So rather than start with the Red Hand of Doom, I will place it in the next city the PCs visit regardless of player choice in city to visit." Here it is the attitude(the PCs will encounter the RHoD regardless of player choice because I said so) more than the action of placing it in the city that is the problem. The difference here is whether the encountering was scripted without regard to player choice or if the encountering was a random result of a player choice.

What about the meta-game responsibility I always see a DM having towards making sure players are having a fun time during the gaming night?

For example, if the players are looking for a bandit queen (seems to have stuck with us), and they hear she is located in the forest.

The DM places her at some location in the forest.

The players go looking, but never goes to THAT exact spot.

Also, somehow they manage to avoid all other locations that has something interesting in it.

So, four hours later, the players have spent an entire evening wandering the forest. Good fun for all!



As a player, I happen to dislike Quantum Ogres.
My DM, as a DM, knows about this preference.
My DM has agreed not to use Quantum Ogres.
Since all 3 of these are true, my DM should not use Quantum Ogres regardless of the fact that Quantum Ogres cannot be perceived from the limited information available to the Players. I trust my DM and thus expect that they are not using Quantum Ogres. I also expect that this trust is well founded.

So the answer you want that is useful to making encounters your player will not be bothered by is:
Listen to your players' preferences and then avoid betraying those preferences even when the betrayal would be invisible to your players' senses.

Yes, DMs should always listen to their players' preferences. That much is for sure, and I always do. Might take a few sessions to figure out though.

However, i don't think you dislike Quantum Ogres as such. You just like your Quantum Ogre to have a shorter spread of the wave function.

OldTrees1
2016-03-26, 07:28 AM
Since I am intrigued by your thinking, I will make some further inquiries to better understand you.

In the above case, what if the DM had placed bandits on both roads?

Alternatively, if the DM didn't know anything at all in advance and came up with the idea of bandits after the players decided on a direction?
I apologize for the copy paste, but I am starting to get tired of answering these questions and the latest 2 to respond all but went on a "BadWrongFun" tirade.

Did the DM move an existing encounter, or place an encounter in a superposition so that it will trigger regardless of PC choice? No? Then that is not the thing I dislike.

Did the DM move an existing encounter, or place an encounter in a superposition so that it will trigger regardless of PC choice? No? Then that is not the thing I dislike.


What was the player's choice in the above case? To head towards the mountains. Invalidating that choice would be to have them end up at the ocean.

Alternatively, you could say "the player choice was to head towards the north to encounter the unknown but pre-planned enconters the DM has placed there". In such a case, the DM must always place everything ahead of time, which, ultimately, takes a lot of work, as the player's choices are basically infinite.

Their choice to head towards the mountains had multiple consequences including both heading away from the bandits(despite being unaware) and heading towards the mountains. Moving the bandits without an in game reason is the DM deciding to invalidate one of those consequences of the choice. Several posters above don't care about the DM invalidating the consequences the players are unaware of, I personally don't like it.

Anyone taking the time to read my posts already knows I use both preplaced encounters and improv when the PCs encounter gaps in the placed material (as is inevitable in a sandbox). Neither is an example of a Quantum Ogre.





You prefer the low probability encounters? :smalltongue:
Heh.
No, I mean that I don't like Quantum Ogres even under the conditions you recommend for them (limiting the superposition to only logical, though not necenssarily mutually consistent areas when trying to enforce the PCs collapse the superposition).




How large does the library need to be?

Isn't the DM enforcing encounters just by the merit of deciding there should be one (as in rolling on the table)?

Do the players need to be involved in constructing the library or can the DM do so alone?

Do the players need to be aware of what library covers any area, including the probability of the DM rolling on it?

Does the library also have to change with time, or is only location fine?
Did the DM move an existing encounter, or place an encounter in a superposition so that it will trigger regardless of PC choice?
No? Then that is not the thing I dislike.
Yes? Then is there an in game reason like a wizard with scry and teleport? No? Then that is a thing I dislike.

If the library is such that it is not "DM: I want the PCs to encounter this specific thing, next time they would encounter something similar I will force them to encounter this regardless of their choices.", when then that is a no to the first question correct? Such libraries are fine.

Selecting a random encounter when the PCs provoke a random encounter is not forcing the PCs to encounter a specific encounter.


It seems to me that you also have some form of superposition, just a more narrow one.

For example, "the west" is a really large arbitrary area. For your choice to REALLY matter, you need exact coordinates (and time).

You can't avoid a wave function, there will always be some uncertainty. The question is, how large do you want it to be?
Did the DM superposition so that it will trigger regardless of PC choice?
No? Then that is not the thing I dislike.
Yes? Then is there an in game reason like a wizard with scry and teleport? No? Then that is a thing I dislike.

The PCs traveling at a different enough time(assuming there is one) or traveling a different enough path would avoid a preplaced encounter.
The PCs provoking a random encounter receive an encounter at that time and location.

Edit: Need to drive, I will finish this reply later.



Well, if the PCs didn't enter into the forest at all, the bandit queen would no longer be possible. So there is always player choice involved.

Unless you make your bandit queen wave function so big as to cover the entire world, but that strains credibility somewhat.
If the wave function is designed to intentionally surround the PCs in order to enforce the encounter without an in game reason, then it is using a superposition to enforce an encounter with no in game reason for the encounter being inevitable. The initial example I responded to was phrased such that it sounded like "PCs are in a large forest. Despite the bandit queen having no in game reason for being in ambush in every direction, I will make the PCs ambushed by the bandit queen." to which I replied that "personally I did not like that quantum ogre effect and would instead place the bandit queen in one of several camps and see if the PCs encounter one of the camps(which may or may not be the one with he bandit queen)".



When does the PCs actions result in a random encounter? Who decides that? Are locations pre-marked with "two random encounter rolls required on journey from A to B"?
The DM decides that. Sorry I can't give a better answer, I have no notable preferences on that matter even when I DM.





I don't think the DM is trying to force it regardless of direction. it is merely the case of an encounter that will happen when the PCs move in a location that could plausibly contain it. Like say "the go into the woods". If they had stayed in the city, or followed the roads, it wouldn't have happened.

Also, now I am splitting hairs, but what about 4 different Ogres being on encounter tables for 4 differetion locations?

Did the DM move an existing encounter, or place an encounter in a superposition so that it will trigger regardless of PC choice?
No? Then that is not the thing I dislike.
Yes? Then is there an in game reason like a wizard with scry and teleport? No? Then that is a thing I dislike.

Did the DM say "I know the PCs will go into a forest eventually. I will just keep moving the bandit queen from one forest to another until they encounter her"?
Or did the DM say "The PCs went into a forest. They will probably attract a random encounter. Yes, they did attract a random encounter. 1 RNG later: looks like a bandit queen"? Depending on which DM you are including in the example, the situation changes.


What about the meta-game responsibility I always see a DM having towards making sure players are having a fun time during the gaming night?

For example, if the players are looking for a bandit queen (seems to have stuck with us), and they hear she is located in the forest.

The DM places her at some location in the forest.

The players go looking, but never goes to THAT exact spot.

Also, somehow they manage to avoid all other locations that has something interesting in it.

So, four hours later, the players have spent an entire evening wandering the forest. Good fun for all!
1) I agree the DM should do what they can to provide a fun time. This requires both providing fun and not ruining fun. Previously we have been talking about a preference, the violation there of would decrease the fun of the specific player.

2) There are several ways the DM can help players find what they are looking for by making those things easier to find rather than decide the players will find it regardless of their choices.
Rule of 3 clues per riddle
Large encounter ranges (Scouts are such a neat DM tool)
Trails
Prediction (Seriously, a bandit queen will not be merely anywhere in the forest. Here the Players can use all that realistic waveform advice you gave to narrow down the search space to a much smaller area which happens to contain where you preplaced the bandit queen)




Yes, DMs should always listen to their players' preferences. That much is for sure, and I always do. Might take a few sessions to figure out though.

However, i don't think you dislike Quantum Ogres as such. You just like your Quantum Ogre to have a shorter spread of the wave function.
Good DM attitude. If it weren't already clear your players were/are in good hands, it is all the more so now.

No, it is clearly the Quantum Ogres that I don't like. Preplaced? Love it. Improv? Important for filling in gaps? Scripting in an encounter so that you have planned for the PCs to encounter it, are forcing the PCs to encounter it regardless of PC choice, and have no in game reason for the inevitability? Yeah, I don't like that. Never have, never will. While ignorance of it might make me technically not bothered by it, I would be bothered if I knew about it. Hence the "technically no, effectively yes" answer to if it would bother me despite me being unaware.

Segev
2016-03-26, 08:15 AM
I think the question being asked now is if "I have two interchangeable sets of bandits, placed on the two highest-probability paths for the PCs to take. Is that a superposition?"

For simplicity's sake, since we all agree that it's not railroading nor what you don't like if the PCs "take a third option," let's assume that the PCs will take one of the two options. e.g. "west" or "north," both of which have pre-placed bandits with generic stats and a generic leader-bandit who will give them the same plot hook either way. Or uses the same table to generate which plot hook is given.

I believe - and others can correct me if I'm wrong - that whether this qualifies as a "superposition" to you, or is acceptable, is the question.

OldTrees1
2016-03-26, 09:08 AM
I think the question being asked now is if "I have two interchangeable sets of bandits, placed on the two highest-probability paths for the PCs to take. Is that a superposition?"

For simplicity's sake, since we all agree that it's not railroading nor what you don't like if the PCs "take a third option," let's assume that the PCs will take one of the two options. e.g. "west" or "north," both of which have pre-placed bandits with generic stats and a generic leader-bandit who will give them the same plot hook either way. Or uses the same table to generate which plot hook is given.

I believe - and others can correct me if I'm wrong - that whether this qualifies as a "superposition" to you, or is acceptable, is the question.

Interchangeable is a bit vague. I presume you mean interchangeable in the manner that all ghouls using the MM statblock are mechanically identical rather than interchangeable in the manner that Bob Jones is in both locations at once.

No that is not a superposition used to force an encounter for 2 reasons:
1) You placed them. (so now whether it is a quantum ogre depends on if you move them if needed to enforce the encounter without an in game reason for the move)
2) You did not force the encounter regardless of PC choice(the DM being open to the third option is important even when we assume/when it is the case that the PCs will not/do not choose the 3rd option).

It is not a Quantum Ogre because the placed encounters did not move.

Let me take that and expand it further to yet another acceptable example:
The PCs are in the city City(I am bad with names). There are roads towards Town, The City, or Village. The nearby forest is the home of a Bandit Queen. She has 5 camps spread throughout the forest(4 near roads and 1 hidden deeper). Unfortunately she only has the men to muster 1 raiding party given the normal caravan guards. So she sets up 6 informants. 3 Watch the gates for wealthy marks. The other 3 relay the signal to the raiding party. The PCs decide to travel to ____ by road. Unless they avoid detection by the informants, the raiding party will setup an ambush on the road the PCs choose.

Related example:
Happy day, the bandit queen hired more men. Now she can muster 2 raiding parties. She has one watch the City-The City road and has the other listen for signals to choose between the other 2 roads.

In both of these examples the same encounter can happen in multiple places(with the same plot hook), but has in game reason for it. If you took away the informants(say by the PCs avoiding detection) and still had the single raiding party hit whichever road the party took for no reason other than trying to force the encounter, then that would be a quantum ogre (placed encounter moving to follow the PCs without in game reason).

Talakeal
2016-03-26, 02:27 PM
I apologize for the copy paste, but I am starting to get tired of answering these questions and the latest 2 to respond all but went on a "BadWrongFun" tirade.

You are welcome to play the game however you like, and if everyone at your table is having fun with it and agreed to it without coercion that is good for you, your group dynamic is certainly healthier than mine*.

I was simply pointing out that I don't think that one person has the right to tell another person what they can think or to judge them based on their thoughts.

Sure, you could make a game out of it (like the old see who can go longest without imagining a purple panda bear), but terms like "dishonesty", "moral decay", or "betrayal of trust" imply that it is more than just fun and games and bleeds over into real life resentment and character judgment over it.

For example, there was a guy in my high school gaming group who, when he got bored, would pull out a pocket knife and start carving up my mother's furniture. He claimed this was to punish me for "inviting him over and then not keeping him adequately entertained". Most people would agree that this was an inappropriate reaction even if his grievances with the game are legitimate, and I don't think someone would be out of line to point that out.




*:In the gaming groups I have ever been apart of we are aware that everyone has a different play style and we just kind of grit our teeth and bear it. For example, my current DM (allegedly**) fudges every dice roll and flat out lies to the players constantly. I don't like that, but I still put up with it because I enjoy the game. I have had a lot of players make requests of me that I really didn't want to do, but I still put up with them because I needed more players and my enjoyment of the game outweighed the discomfort of humoring their requests.

**: My last DM blatantly lies and cheats, and he rants at the players for undermining his authority for assuming a consistent world (like if a 23 hit the ogre on the previous round and you assume a 23 hits the ogre this round under the same conditions without asking him). When I left his game he asked me why I didn't leave the other game we were both players in, and claimed that the DM of that game lies to the players about everything and completely ignores all dice rolls on both his part and the players, he is just a good enough storyteller that we don't notice it.

OldTrees1
2016-03-26, 02:42 PM
You are welcome to play the game however you like, and if everyone at your table is having fun with it and agreed to it without coercion that is good for you, your group dynamic is certainly healthier than mine*.

I was simply pointing out that I don't think that one person has the right to tell another person what they can think or to judge them based on their thoughts.

I will politely ask you to stop. You have failed to realize that D&D is a branching timelines game and that while only a single slice is visible to the players, it is perfectly reasonable to have preferences about the linearity/branching of the map. Your insistence to brand this "a thoughtcrime"/"policing thoughts" and all but go on a BadWrongFun tirade is not appreciated.

BayardSPSR
2016-03-26, 03:53 PM
For example, there was a guy in my high school gaming group who, when he got bored, would pull out a pocket knife and start carving up my mother's furniture. He claimed this was to punish me for "inviting him over and then not keeping him adequately entertained". Most people would agree that this was an inappropriate reaction even if his grievances with the game are legitimate, and I don't think someone would be out of line to point that out.

I swear you are the source of 95% of the most extreme terrible gaming stories I have ever heard.

Talakeal
2016-03-26, 04:05 PM
I will politely ask you to stop. You have failed to realize that D&D is a branching timelines game and that while only a single slice is visible to the players, it is perfectly reasonable to have preferences about the linearity/branching of the map. Your insistence to brand this "a thoughtcrime"/"policing thoughts" and all but go on a BadWrongFun tirade is not appreciated.

I am sorry.

I am not trying to rub your "wrongness" in your face, I was just trying to find new ways to clarify my initial position to make it appear less hostile, but I seem to be having the opposite effect and for that I apologize and will stop.

I know you never said it, but it is hard not to personalize statements. When you say something like "If MY DM did X they are violating MY trust" people read it as "If YOU do X YOU are violating YOUR players trust," so it feels like you are the one who is going on the "badwrongfun tirade" even if that wasn't your intention.
If I may use another anecdote, I recently told my DM that "I don't fudge dice rolls when I DM, it feels like cheating to me," but my DM, who fudges rolls all the time, heard it as "You shouldn't fudge dice rolls when you DM, and since you do you are a cheater," and a gigantic argument ensued.


Again, I am sorry if I hurt your feelings, and I will happily drop the discussion as at this point.



I swear you are the source of 95% of the most extreme terrible gaming stories I have ever heard.

LOL, I got that a lot. I think most people have just dismissed me as a troll at this point, but that really did happen...

OldTrees1
2016-03-26, 06:38 PM
I am sorry.

I am not trying to rub your "wrongness" in your face, I was just trying to find new ways to clarify my initial position to make it appear less hostile, but I seem to be having the opposite effect and for that I apologize and will stop.

I know you never said it, but it is hard not to personalize statements. When you say something like "If MY DM did X they are violating MY trust" people read it as "If YOU do X YOU are violating YOUR players trust," so it feels like you are the one who is going on the "badwrongfun tirade" even if that wasn't your intention.
If I may use another anecdote, I recently told my DM that "I don't fudge dice rolls when I DM, it feels like cheating to me," but my DM, who fudges rolls all the time, heard it as "You shouldn't fudge dice rolls when you DM, and since you do you are a cheater," and a gigantic argument ensued.


Again, I am sorry if I hurt your feelings, and I will happily drop the discussion as at this point.

Thank you. :smallsmile:

I tried to ward off that effect by having the first sentence of my first post be me publicly recognizing that it works and is enjoyable for the person I was responding to. And then tried to further ward off that effect by labeling the scope of my statements as mere personal preference. I expect as the conversation went on, the initial post became invisible rendering the warding moot.

So for the sake of clarity: There is nothing wrong with using Quantum Ogres. Segev even described how one can use module scale Quantum Ogres to avoid railroading while maintaining plot structure. While I may personally dislike them, many not only are okay with them but actually enjoy them for their real merits.

PS: Talakeal, I still hold out hope that your gaming situation will improve enough that a celebration thread can be made.

Cluedrew
2016-03-26, 08:35 PM
You know I think some of this confusion and argument comes from the fact that there is not a single definition of railroading.

For me railroading is the act of forcing players (usually by the GM) along a particular story/adventure path. By this definition it is almost always a problem (and I think never ideal) unlike a simple linear campaign which is similar but, in particular, has player buy in. By this definition most CRPGs are not railroads, because the player usually buys in to a single linear path at the start of the game.

Most of the games I have played in have been linear adventures, but they haven't been railroads because the other players and I have gone with it because we wanted to. (Except for the one session when I wasn't there and the party wondered into the desert to die, but even then the DM tried to accommodate the sudden change in plot direction.)

On a side note I don't really have a strong feeling on quantum ogres because I generally feel random encounters are boring anyways (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0145.html) and so should be used as little as possible. By the way I don't mean random encounters are bad overall, I just mean that I personally don't like them.

ImNotTrevor
2016-03-26, 08:48 PM
LOL, I got that a lot. I think most people have just dismissed me as a troll at this point, but that really did happen...

Hey man, I've got a gaming group that plays on Saturday Mornings via Roll20. We're super chill and we'll try just about anything. If you're interested, shoot me a PM.

Darth Ultron
2016-03-26, 10:19 PM
You know I think some of this confusion and argument comes from the fact that there is not a single definition of railroading.

For me railroading is the act of forcing players (usually by the GM) along a particular story/adventure path.

Most of the games I have played in have been linear adventures, but they haven't been railroads because the other players and I have gone with it because we wanted to.

The thing is that your definition comes down to ''railroading is whatever the players don't like''. So if you have good players they will never cry railroad, but if you have bad players they will endlessly whine and cry that everything is a railroad.



On a side note I don't really have a strong feeling on quantum ogres because I generally feel random encounters are boring anyways[/URL] and so should be used as little as possible. By the way I don't mean random encounters are bad overall, I just mean that I personally don't like them.

A Quantum Ogre is a planned encounter, not a random one.

Milo v3
2016-03-26, 10:25 PM
The thing is that your definition comes down to ''railroading is whatever the players don't like''.
Nope, please start reading other peoples posts.


So if you have good players they will never cry railroad, but if you have bad players they will endlessly whine and cry that everything is a railroad.
Saying something is a railroad doesn't make it a railroad so this is a rather pointless sentence.

Talakeal
2016-03-27, 12:25 AM
You know I think some of this confusion and argument comes from the fact that there is not a single definition of railroading.

For me railroading is the act of forcing players (usually by the GM) along a particular story/adventure path. By this definition it is almost always a problem (and I think never ideal) unlike a simple linear campaign which is similar but, in particular, has player buy in. By this definition most CRPGs are not railroads, because the player usually buys in to a single linear path at the start of the game.

Most of the games I have played in have been linear adventures, but they haven't been railroads because the other players and I have gone with it because we wanted to. (Except for the one session when I wasn't there and the party wondered into the desert to die, but even then the DM tried to accommodate the sudden change in plot direction.)

On a side note I don't really have a strong feeling on quantum ogres because I generally feel random encounters are boring anyways (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0145.html) and so should be used as little as possible. By the way I don't mean random encounters are bad overall, I just mean that I personally don't like them.

A quantum ogre is mot a random encounter, it is a planned encounter which does not have a fixed location and therefore can be moved into the PCs path regardless of which road they take.

People only compare it to a random encounter to identify exactly why people object to the practice.

RazorChain
2016-03-27, 02:43 AM
You know I think some of this confusion and argument comes from the fact that there is not a single definition of railroading.

For me railroading is the act of forcing players (usually by the GM) along a particular story/adventure path. By this definition it is almost always a problem (and I think never ideal) unlike a simple linear campaign which is similar but, in particular, has player buy in. By this definition most CRPGs are not railroads, because the player usually buys in to a single linear path at the start of the game.

Most of the games I have played in have been linear adventures, but they haven't been railroads because the other players and I have gone with it because we wanted to. (Except for the one session when I wasn't there and the party wondered into the desert to die, but even then the DM tried to accommodate the sudden change in plot direction.)

On a side note I don't really have a strong feeling on quantum ogres because I generally feel random encounters are boring anyways (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0145.html) and so should be used as little as possible. By the way I don't mean random encounters are bad overall, I just mean that I personally don't like them.

I my perception of railroading is different. It is when a GM forces you down the path from A to B to C to progress the story or there is only one solution to a problem. I'm going to take an example of what Lorsa wrote several pages ago and expand on it


Railroading:

The DM plans to have the characters commit a crime, so they can be arrested for it. Alternatively, if the players are so resilient to his "subtle" manipulation that they never commit the crime, the DM plans to have the characters arrested for a crime they didn't commit (as in, being set up).

The DM plans to have the characters arrested for a crime so they can end up in prison. If the players somehow try to fight back the guards, they are much better than the characters, somehow being able to counter the players' every moves. If the players somehow try to get their characters killed, the guards will spare them or help/heal them.

The DM plans to have the characters ending up in prison so they can meet NPC PlotPoint. NPC PlotPoint will tell them something very revealing about The Villain, let's say that he has been (*gasp*) the King all along!

The DM plans to have the PlotPoint revealed so the characters will want to fight the King. Once the reveal has taken place, the "Escape from Prison" scene will take place.

The DM plans to have NPC PlotPoint being broken out of prison by the help of his group The Rebellion. As it is clear the characters are also against the King, they will bring them along.

The DM plans to have the characters meet with The Rebellion, so they can be part of the Assassinate the King! plan. Being very competent adventurers, the DM plans to have The Rebellion ask the characters to use a diversion created to sneak in, follow the map The Rebellion gives them to the King's chambers and kill him. If the players somehow says no and wants to go somewhere else, the DM won't really know what to do, probably have The Rebellion assume they are in league with the King and thus try to kill them until the players come to their senses and say "sorry, we were just joking", or whatever.

The DM plans to have The Rebellion give them info on how to reach the King so the characters can kill him and thus end The Story. Hurray!

Not railroading:

The characters commit a crime. The DM sends city guards to try and arrest the players.

The Villain is the King. He has learnt the characters are in the city and sends city guards to try and arrest the players for a crime they didn't commit.


Ok in his case he mention the villain is the king now let's expand on this and make a whole plot story about it.

The villain is the king, his goal is to stop the rebellion. He has captured the plotpoint npc which in this case is his bastard brother and is with the rebellion. The king has heard of the PC's exploits of vanquishing the bandit queen that plagued his lands and wants their help to infiltrate the rebellion and dismantle it from withing. He wants to know who of his leal subjects are supporting the rebellion so he can make some heads roll.

The PC's get approached when in the city by a contigent of royal guards, the captain tells them that the King is summoning them, he is grateful for their efforts of vanquishing the bandid queen who plagued his lands.

Now the PC's can decide what they want to do. Do they sneak away at the sight of the guard? Do they fast talk the captain that they have to finish their shopping and be along shortly? Do they fight? Do they run away? This is their agency to choose what to do.

Now let's say that the PC's want nothing to do with the king even though a grateful king might offer rewards (the carrot). The PC's just want to skip along and go somewhere to build a castle, and they fast talk the guards and leave the city. This doesn't mean the plot hook is gone. What if an agent of the rebellion approaches them outside the city, says he witnessed their exchange with the guards and admires them for defying the king, maybe the PC's could assist the rebellion. Nope the PC's want a castle!!! The rebellion agent tells them there probably will be some vacant castles lying around after the loyalists have been purged (carrot)

This is just a basic story structure where the PC's are given a choice. If we take this further all kinds of things could happen. Will the players be double agents? Will they work for the rebellion and spring the bastard brother out of jail? Will they fight the guards and end in jail meeting the bastard brother? Will they work for the king and find out who are assisting the rebels, make a list of names and add the name of Count Drumpf just because he has a lovely castle? Will they start working for the king and switch sides?

This has lot's of possbilites and choices for the PC's that doesnt involve getting from A to B to C. Then you can also throw in complications, like the PC's start working for the king but decide they are going to betray him because he is an evil despot. What if you throw in his lovely daughter who takes interest in one of the PC's?

This of course all depends if the PC's bite on the hook.

Cluedrew
2016-03-27, 05:58 PM
The thing is that your definition comes down to ''railroading is whatever the players don't like''. So if you have good players they will never cry railroad, but if you have bad players they will endlessly whine and cry that everything is a railroad.Actually if you look closely it actually doesn't matter if a player calls railroad or not. To make a simple example the players do something unexpected and stupid and the GM accommodates that choice by having the world react appropriately, for the sake of discussion lets say that this reaction makes it impossible for story to continue as the GM expected. One problem, some subset of the players don't like the result and call railroad. But that doesn't make it a railroad, the GM allowed the players to change the path of the narrative and did not force them to follow the original adventure. Even if the GM had an over-the-top negative reaction, did a TPK and ended the campaign that is still not a railroad, although it is still bad GMing.

One more thing, and this is IMPORTANT, this maybe completely separate from your definition of railroading, it maybe completely different from the actual definition of railroading (if one exists, I doubt one does) it is merely my definition of railroading. It is the one I find to be the most useful.


A quantum ogre is mot a random encounter, it is a planned encounter which does not have a fixed location and therefore can be moved into the PCs path regardless of which road they take.

People only compare it to a random encounter to identify exactly why people object to the practice.Once you point that out I realized I forgot to account for pseudo-random encounters. I just made that term up, it describes encounters that are not randomly generated, in fact were pre-planned, but the players did not have enough information to avoid or prepare for them.

Let me give an example. The party is working at the edge of a major city, doing minor acts of heroicness. They move into a new, higher-class district and during their second night they are attacked by ninjas. Random? Not at all, you see four days previously the party busted a street gang with connections to the cities largest thief's guild (mob). The party new the thief's guild existed, although they didn't bother to check if this gang had a connection to it. Anyways one of the survivors makes his way to a larger group. They think he is high at first (a dragonborn, two elves (one of which is a wizard) and a paladin, that is not good stuff man) but the next day he hasn't come down and no one has seen anyone else from the gang. They ask around, realize the story is true and by end of the day the guild master has authorised some punitive measures. However this means calling in the guild's big shots, ninja who live out of town and it takes two days to gather them. The attack goes forward the next night, as it wasn't hard to find the party once they new what to look for.

Nothing random about it at all. Did the players see it coming? No, and as much fun as I've had writing this example I should explain why I'm writing it. I was accidently grouping this sort of thing, that the players couldn't really predict, and hence could be moved around like a quantum ogre, with random encounters.


I my perception of railroading is different. It is when a GM forces you down the path from A to B to C to progress the story or there is only one solution to a problem.That is a little different, but not that different, besides the terminology (a story path could be described as a sequence of events to progress the story) you have expanded it to cover problem solving as well, which I didn't mention. I would almost include what you said word for word in my definition but I would adjust one solution (which is more of a design problem) to the idea of causing valid solutions to fail because they are not what was planned.

Lorsa
2016-03-29, 02:51 AM
I apologize for the copy paste, but I am starting to get tired of answering these questions and the latest 2 to respond all but went on a "BadWrongFun" tirade.

Did the DM move an existing encounter, or place an encounter in a superposition so that it will trigger regardless of PC choice? No? Then that is not the thing I dislike.

Did the DM move an existing encounter, or place an encounter in a superposition so that it will trigger regardless of PC choice? No? Then that is not the thing I dislike.

Copy paste is fine, and I noticed lots of other people also asked similar questions.




Their choice to head towards the mountains had multiple consequences including both heading away from the bandits(despite being unaware) and heading towards the mountains. Moving the bandits without an in game reason is the DM deciding to invalidate one of those consequences of the choice. Several posters above don't care about the DM invalidating the consequences the players are unaware of, I personally don't like it.

Anyone taking the time to read my posts already knows I use both preplaced encounters and improv when the PCs encounter gaps in the placed material (as is inevitable in a sandbox). Neither is an example of a Quantum Ogre.

I think I understood what your copy-paste was all about. It seems to me as though the reasons a DM has for doing something is important.

On that, I agree with you. Some bad DMing can be hard to distinguish from just the events alone, why they are done is an important factor.






Heh.
No, I mean that I don't like Quantum Ogres even under the conditions you recommend for them (limiting the superposition to only logical, though not necenssarily mutually consistent areas when trying to enforce the PCs collapse the superposition).

As far as I understand the classic "Quantum Ogre", it is an Ogre that supposedly lives in a forest, which is a known fact to everyone (including the DM). Then, when the characters choose not to go to the forest, the DM moves to the Ogre and have the players face him anyway.

In my quantum picture, this would indeed not be the recommended thing either.

The Ogre's wavefunction is clearly defined to the bounds of the forest. In it, there is a high probability of finding it. Then, for some reason, the DM decides to stretch the wavefunction to also cover the road, or possibly claim that the Ogre wavefunction covers the entire world or whatever.

Unfortunately, if a wavefunction covers the whole world, the probability at every spot becomes infinitely small, so you can't trigger it at all without making it a "low probability event" that I advised against. Even if you just stretch it to the road, it is clearly a low probability location, so best not to use it.

The purpose of my picture is to extend the "quantum" picture that some people hide behind when moving encounters, to incorporate more accurate quantum mechanics and thus explain why some things shouldn't be done. I also claim that you can't get away from some uncertainty in your encounter-placing, but if you stick to the high probability ones, it's a generic good starting point.




If the wave function is designed to intentionally surround the PCs in order to enforce the encounter without an in game reason, then it is using a superposition to enforce an encounter with no in game reason for the encounter being inevitable. The initial example I responded to was phrased such that it sounded like "PCs are in a large forest. Despite the bandit queen having no in game reason for being in ambush in every direction, I will make the PCs ambushed by the bandit queen." to which I replied that "personally I did not like that quantum ogre effect and would instead place the bandit queen in one of several camps and see if the PCs encounter one of the camps(which may or may not be the one with he bandit queen)".

Yes, you are right. You shouldn't hide behind quantum uncertainty when you trigger ambush regardless of player action.

If the bandit queen is important to the story (which seems to be the case), it would take the DM a total of 2 seconds to decide in which direction her base is. If you can't, or don't want to decide, then rolling a die is a good tool.

So a real bandit queen wavefunction would envelope the forest in a way that gives her base a 0.6 on triggering her, the other three parts of the woods a 0.1 as she is sometimes roaming about to the minor camps and a 0.1 of not triggering at all, as she can be away selling loot in the city or whatever.

Which means that if you trigger it in her base, it's fine according to my picture, it's a high probability event. Triggering it elsewhere should be done with caution (such as rolling a d10 and have a 1 trigger her).

If you spread out the wavefunction to surround the PCs, the probability isn't 1 of triggering her in any direction, it is at most 0.25. Some players find 0.25 to be an adequate number, but I can tell you do not, which is why it's important to know your players.



1) I agree the DM should do what they can to provide a fun time. This requires both providing fun and not ruining fun. Previously we have been talking about a preference, the violation there of would decrease the fun of the specific player.

Can't really disagree with that.


2) There are several ways the DM can help players find what they are looking for by making those things easier to find rather than decide the players will find it regardless of their choices.
Rule of 3 clues per riddle
Large encounter ranges (Scouts are such a neat DM tool)
Trails
Prediction (Seriously, a bandit queen will not be merely anywhere in the forest. Here the Players can use all that realistic waveform advice you gave to narrow down the search space to a much smaller area which happens to contain where you preplaced the bandit queen)

All good advice.




Good DM attitude. If it weren't already clear your players were/are in good hands, it is all the more so now.

No, it is clearly the Quantum Ogres that I don't like. Preplaced? Love it. Improv? Important for filling in gaps? Scripting in an encounter so that you have planned for the PCs to encounter it, are forcing the PCs to encounter it regardless of PC choice, and have no in game reason for the inevitability? Yeah, I don't like that. Never have, never will. While ignorance of it might make me technically not bothered by it, I would be bothered if I knew about it. Hence the "technically no, effectively yes" answer to if it would bother me despite me being unaware.

Thank you for your kind words.

I remember once when I DID ambush the PCs at a place where it seemed to them to be completely illogical. They got a bit upset at first, until they questioned one of the ambushers afterwards and found out they had used Divination magic to scry on them (which was completely logical as the PCs were being hunted). Then they got paranoid instead. Good fun!

OldTrees1
2016-03-29, 11:21 AM
As far as I understand the classic "Quantum Ogre", it is an Ogre that supposedly lives in a forest, which is a known fact to everyone (including the DM). Then, when the characters choose not to go to the forest, the DM moves to the Ogre and have the players face him anyway.

In my quantum picture, this would indeed not be the recommended thing either.

The Ogre's wavefunction is clearly defined to the bounds of the forest. In it, there is a high probability of finding it. Then, for some reason, the DM decides to stretch the wavefunction to also cover the road, or possibly claim that the Ogre wavefunction covers the entire world or whatever.

Unfortunately, if a wavefunction covers the whole world, the probability at every spot becomes infinitely small, so you can't trigger it at all without making it a "low probability event" that I advised against. Even if you just stretch it to the road, it is clearly a low probability location, so best not to use it.

The purpose of my picture is to extend the "quantum" picture that some people hide behind when moving encounters, to incorporate more accurate quantum mechanics and thus explain why some things shouldn't be done. I also claim that you can't get away from some uncertainty in your encounter-placing, but if you stick to the high probability ones, it's a generic good starting point.

Quantum Ogre refers both to the Ogre placed in the forest(regardless of PC knowledge) that is moved to the road and the Ogre that assigned to be placed in whichever of the forest/road the players go to. On all possible timelines those are indistinguishable except in phrasing even from the DM's information.

However I am now confused about what you are doing. Let's say the Bandit Queen has 3 camps (P: 0.5, 0.375, 0.125). Are you talking about rolling 1d8 independent of player choice to determine the location of the Bandit Queen? Or are you talking about the PCs have a 100% chance of encountering the Bandit Queen if they tolerate 0.125 and either a 100% or a 0% chance (depending on if it is the 0.125 camp) if they only tolerate greater than 0.125?

The first is an independent check to place the bandit queen that could easily have been done in advance of the player's choice and doing so after the player's choice still does not influenced the placement. The second is a Quantum Ogre since the encounter moves in front of the PCs regardless of PC choice without an in game reason. From the sound of it, I think you are describing the first case but several lines give me doubts.


Edit:
I guess there is a 3rd reading of what you said. Bandit queen has 3 camps(0.8, 0.1, and 0.1). The PCs have 100%, 10%, and 10% respectively of encountering the Bandit Queen if they head in that direction. That just sounds weird. That is on the fringe. At some point on that multidimensional continuum the RNG based placement of the 1st method becomes the Quantum Ogre of the second method.

Lorsa
2016-03-30, 07:58 AM
However I am now confused about what you are doing. Let's say the Bandit Queen has 3 camps (P: 0.5, 0.375, 0.125). Are you talking about rolling 1d8 independent of player choice to determine the location of the Bandit Queen? Or are you talking about the PCs have a 100% chance of encountering the Bandit Queen if they tolerate 0.125 and either a 100% or a 0% chance (depending on if it is the 0.125 camp) if they only tolerate greater than 0.125?

The first is an independent check to place the bandit queen that could easily have been done in advance of the player's choice and doing so after the player's choice still does not influenced the placement. The second is a Quantum Ogre since the encounter moves in front of the PCs regardless of PC choice without an in game reason. From the sound of it, I think you are describing the first case but several lines give me doubts.


Edit:
I guess there is a 3rd reading of what you said. Bandit queen has 3 camps(0.8, 0.1, and 0.1). The PCs have 100%, 10%, and 10% respectively of encountering the Bandit Queen if they head in that direction. That just sounds weird. That is on the fringe. At some point on that multidimensional continuum the RNG based placement of the 1st method becomes the Quantum Ogre of the second method.

I guess what I really wanted to say was that if your bandit queen has a probability of 0.6 at being in her main camp, then it would be okay to let the players encounter her there. However, if you want to roll for the chance of finding her at the odd locations, then you really have to roll for her main camp as well. As you pointed out, it shouldn't be 100% +3*10%, that would be weird. I do realize that is about what I said, as I unfortunately convoluted my two different advice in one (if you want to choose, choose high prob, but you can also roll instead).

If your players are okay with triggering low probability encounters repeatedly, then you could indeed make it into a Quantum Ogre. Most often that either upsets people (like yourself), or strains credibility in the long run (for everyone else), so my advice is to avoid it.

So if you do construct an accurate probability function, the best way to go about it afterwards is to RND. This makes player choice important and also uphold a higher degree of verisimilitude.

However, if you find that you haven't actually placed the bandit queen before the players decide where to go, you should probably roll a die and then place here at the location it indicates (and then stick with it). Seems only fair, no?

OldTrees1
2016-03-30, 10:11 AM
I guess what I really wanted to say was that if your bandit queen has a probability of 0.6 at being in her main camp, then it would be okay to let the players encounter her there. However, if you want to roll for the chance of finding her at the odd locations, then you really have to roll for her main camp as well. As you pointed out, it shouldn't be 100% +3*10%, that would be weird. I do realize that is about what I said, as I unfortunately convoluted my two different advice in one (if you want to choose, choose high prob, but you can also roll instead).

If your players are okay with triggering low probability encounters repeatedly, then you could indeed make it into a Quantum Ogre. Most often that either upsets people (like yourself), or strains credibility in the long run (for everyone else), so my advice is to avoid it.

So if you do construct an accurate probability function, the best way to go about it afterwards is to RND. This makes player choice important and also uphold a higher degree of verisimilitude.

However, if you find that you haven't actually placed the bandit queen before the players decide where to go, you should probably roll a die and then place here at the location it indicates (and then stick with it). Seems only fair, no?

I agree that having the Bandit Queen's location be determined independently of Player choice of direction (whether via RNG or derived from other details) is fair. It is also something I would not dislike (added for clarity because, while I dislike Quantum Ogres, I will not claim they are bad or unfair).

Your other method: "if you want to choose, choose high prob" creates some circumstances I, personally, don't like.
High = 50%+: If the BQ has 2 camps with 0.5 and 0.5, the choose high makes it a 100% chance at either location. 100%+100%>50%+50%
High = 80%+: If the BQ has 2 camps with 0.8 and 0.8 (Prereq: some kind of in game reason for a limited ability to respond to either location), the choose high makes it a 100% chance at either location. 100%+100%>80%+80%
High = 100%: If the BQ has 2 camps with 1.0 and 1.0 (Prereq: some kind of in game reason for an ability to respond to either location), the choose high makes it a 100% chance at either location. 100%+100%=100%+100%
I don't like the inequality between in game reason and DM choice in the 1st and 2nd cases here.

MadBear
2016-03-30, 10:44 AM
This got me thinking about the railroading problem again, which by the many stories told, seem to be far too common around roleplaying tables across the world. Mainly, I am curious as to why it is so common, and possible also what can be done to minimize its occurrence.

Reading the adventure book, the answer to the first question seemed rather obvious. It seems as though prospective DMs simply suffer from lack of inspirational material.


As to question 1:

From my personal experience time is one of the biggest key factors in the use of railroading. Having an adventure where Plot point A happens, then B, and then C is often far easier then non-railroad adventures.

I know in my group we often call our session short if the DM has planned out 2-4 encounters based on what we might do, and we end up doing something completely different instead.

For instance: Last week we ended up with this evil McGuffin that we're trying to hide from a powerful cult. Based on our characters, the DM planned out adventures if we:
1. Teamed up with a local druid circle.
2. Helped out the mafia and went into debt
3. Ran into the forest

What we ended up doing. We fled into the sewers where we had remembered from much earlier that a tribe of lizardmen had been living. We decided that we'd challenge their leader for the right to be King, and basically recruit a lizardman army to help us.

This possibility wasn't on the DM's radar, so we called it for the day so that he could prepare that adventure.

Now for groups that don't meet regularly, having to call a session early would suck.

The only way around this that I can see is for the DM to have a whole world built and ready to go, which may or may not be realistic.


As for solutions. One that I've found common is to reskin dungeons to match what the PC's end up wanting to do.

For example:

I had this ghost encounter set up for the PC's to go in. They decided that they didn't want to, because it wouldn't earn them money (they were mercenaries), and instead they headed to a nearby village. They found a contract on a local werewolf bandit who had overtaken a wealthy business mans mansion.

I used the same layout as the haunted house, with many of the same traps. I had to switched out ghosts for lycanthropes and I was able to keep the adventure going, without having to do much replanning.

OldTrees1
2016-03-30, 12:40 PM
As to question 1:

From my personal experience time is one of the biggest key factors in the use of railroading. Having an adventure where Plot point A happens, then B, and then C is often far easier then non-railroad adventures.

Yes. Time was a big factor based on my own experience as a DM. Although it becomes less and less a factor as material accumulates and one practices handling the unexpected (your example about editing the haunted house into a lycan den can grow into an ability to spontaneously generate new material without needing something to edit). My ability to run a sandbox campaign is mostly owed to unpredictable players stretching and growing my abilities.

Edit: One easy tip about editing material for reuse
For every room on the map, choose a hall/passage somewhere on the map and move at least 1 endpoint of the hall/passage. This quickly changes the layout without much thought or time. Bonus points if it forces the map into 3 dimensions (although you can easily squash it flat again).

Darth Ultron
2016-03-30, 10:27 PM
Actually if you look closely it actually doesn't matter if a player calls railroad or not. To make a simple example the players do something unexpected and stupid and the GM accommodates that choice by having the world react appropriately, for the sake of discussion lets say that this reaction makes it impossible for story to continue as the GM expected. One problem, some subset of the players don't like the result and call railroad. But that doesn't make it a railroad, the GM allowed the players to change the path of the narrative and did not force them to follow the original adventure. Even if the GM had an over-the-top negative reaction, did a TPK and ended the campaign that is still not a railroad, although it is still bad GMing.


At best your definition of railroading is still ''if the players don't like it''. At worst it's just pure anarchy. Where the players are demanding a random world that just reacts to them and the DM never ever has a plan other then to wait on the players.

Though I'd say it is impossible for the DM to be ''stuck'' like you suggest. Where, somehow, it is impossible for the DM to have the story continue. The DM can do anything. The only way a DM can get stuck is if they let it happen.

SethoMarkus
2016-03-30, 11:52 PM
At best your definition of railroading is still ''if the players don't like it''. At worst it's just pure anarchy. Where the players are demanding a random world that just reacts to them and the DM never ever has a plan other then to wait on the players.

Though I'd say it is impossible for the DM to be ''stuck'' like you suggest. Where, somehow, it is impossible for the DM to have the story continue. The DM can do anything. The only way a DM can get stuck is if they let it happen.

But if the DM can do anything and they use that ability to not be stuck, they are just railroading the Players away from being stuck. If the players really push the DM into a corner and the Players are given agency, then the DM must either remain stuck in the corner or steal away that player agency by sticking them on rails. Otherwise what is the point?

ImNotTrevor
2016-03-31, 12:29 AM
At best your definition of railroading is still ''if the players don't like it''. At worst it's just pure anarchy. Where the players are demanding a random world that just reacts to them and the DM never ever has a plan other then to wait on the players.

Though I'd say it is impossible for the DM to be ''stuck'' like you suggest. Where, somehow, it is impossible for the DM to have the story continue. The DM can do anything. The only way a DM can get stuck is if they let it happen.

So what about the following:

The PCs are at a university in a Sci-fi setting. Lets call it Space Harvard.
While there, they experience some strange psychic phenomena, which isn't insane. (Psychics are a real thing in this system/setting)

So in response, one of the characters asks if the university has a notable professor of psionics.

The GM hasn't explicitly created one ahead of time, but it certainly makes sense that Space Harvard would have a department of Psionics Studies, if psionics are a well-known phenomenon. So the GM digs through a list of names and tells the PC that Jane Johnson is the Dean of Psionics Studies, and is notable in the field. The PC goes and talks to this dean about the phenomena, and since the Dean would obviously be interested in such things, she lends her aid. Later on she becomes an NPC that the PCs contact regularly.

Now, was this railroaded, or random?

By your definition it can't be railroading because it wasn't planned and was improvised. The situation is spurred on by an unexpected question.

But it also isn't random because it follows a logical progression rather than following random chance.

Lets do this another way:

The same characters experience a haunting in 1920's New York University. (Hauntings, while real, are not acknowledged or studied in this setting.) A PC asks if there is a professor of Supernatural Phenomena.

The GM hadn't planned on this coming up. He stops to think for a second and decides that no, it is really unlikely that such a position exists. He tells this to the player. The player is displeased, but not enough to make a big deal out of it.

Is this railroading?
It wasn’t planned in advance, and it also followed a logical process rather than pure randomness.

The player disliked it, but not enough to have a cow.


So in both of these cases they fit neither the It Is Always Railroading logic nor the Pure Randomness logic. So what now?

Hyooz
2016-03-31, 04:46 PM
So what about the following:

The PCs are at a university in a Sci-fi setting. Lets call it Space Harvard.
While there, they experience some strange psychic phenomena, which isn't insane. (Psychics are a real thing in this system/setting)

So in response, one of the characters asks if the university has a notable professor of psionics.

The GM hasn't explicitly created one ahead of time, but it certainly makes sense that Space Harvard would have a department of Psionics Studies, if psionics are a well-known phenomenon. So the GM digs through a list of names and tells the PC that Jane Johnson is the Dean of Psionics Studies, and is notable in the field. The PC goes and talks to this dean about the phenomena, and since the Dean would obviously be interested in such things, she lends her aid. Later on she becomes an NPC that the PCs contact regularly.


Alternative scenario for you.

The players ask if the university has a notable professor of psionics. The GM hasn't created one ahead of time because he knows that Space Harvard in his world is a strict denier of psychic phenomenon, and certainly wouldn't hire a professor of such. Space Yale, however, does have such a professor because they are more liberal and open to the existence of such phenomena, and after a few rolls investigating the issue, the GM informs the players that Jane Johnson works at Space Yale, and she's one of the best in the field. It also happens that the GM has some things planned to occur at Space Yale related to the psychic phenomenon the players previously experienced.

Is this a railroading scenario?

Darth Ultron
2016-03-31, 05:45 PM
But if the DM can do anything and they use that ability to not be stuck, they are just railroading the Players away from being stuck. If the players really push the DM into a corner and the Players are given agency, then the DM must either remain stuck in the corner or steal away that player agency by sticking them on rails. Otherwise what is the point?

This makes no sense to me. The players are very limited by the game reality and what their individual characters can do. The DM can do anything. The only way what your saying makes any sense is if you limit the DM just like the players. So everyone is ''equal''.

Like lets take the typical not so bright or clever DM who has also said ''I'm going to limit what I can do down to the level of the players''. So the short sighted DM just gets beyond flustered as soon as the players ''turn left''. And if the DM does anything to ''get out of the corner'', it's railroading?

I just don't get the attitude of ''unless the DM is a slave to the players whims , it's railroading''.




Now, was this railroaded, or random?

Random. It's only a railroad if the Dm makes up the NPC before the game starts and then alters the game reality so the PC's ''have'' to meet the character.



Is this railroading?
It wasn’t planned in advance, and it also followed a logical process rather than pure randomness.

Not railroading again. But it does have the lame lawyer defense of ''if the DM can be a jerk lawyer/con man type and fool the players, then it is all good''.



So in both of these cases they fit neither the It Is Always Railroading logic nor the Pure Randomness logic. So what now?

Odd, both fit pure randomness to me. Or were you confusing randomness with chaos? Are you thinking ''randomness'' must be like ''oh the dean is..a two headed chicken ninja alien'', because it must be ''random''? It can be random, but still make logical sense.

Though i'd say your example DM is a bad DM, and quite inexperienced. Creating ''obvious NPC's the PC's might want to interact with'' is really basic Dming.

OldTrees1
2016-03-31, 06:22 PM
Odd, both fit pure randomness to me. Or were you confusing randomness with chaos? Are you thinking ''randomness'' must be like ''oh the dean is..a two headed chicken ninja alien'', because it must be ''random''? It can be random, but still make logical sense.

Though i'd say your example DM is a bad DM, and quite inexperienced. Creating ''obvious NPC's the PC's might want to interact with'' is really basic Dming.

Nay, they are not confusing Randomness with Chaos.

They are counting as random both anything created by an RNG and any spontaneous generation(improv) that is not the result of deduction from existing details.

Thus they have been presenting you example after example after example of cases where the detail in question was not written months ago but the DM derived the detail from the existing details when the PCs prompted the detail to be relevant.

Sidenote: When using words to communicate you should either use accepted definitions or state the definition you are using when you differ from everyone else. So what pray tell is your definition of "Random" and why should anyone accept the connotation you are ascribing to your definition?

Darth Ultron
2016-03-31, 07:10 PM
Nay, they are not confusing Randomness with Chaos.



It seems like they are? The DM either has a plan/plot/story or everything is random. There is no room for middle ground. A lot of people are just saying that as a DM they don't have a ''plan/plot/story'' so they can stand on their high horse and say ''they never railroad''.

Even if the odd Dm with no plot/plan/story just sits there and reacts, there comes a point where that is impossible. Say the PC's walk around town, at random as there is no plot/plan/story for them to follow. They meet NPC and encounter events, but once things are put in the game, they are mostly set. Once the DM says ''the kings ball is three days from now'', that gets a ''soft lock'' in the game reality. Sure anything can be changed, but most of the game reality must happen ''as normal'' or your just playing pure chaos. But that ''soft lock'' is the start of a plot/plan/story, as things in the world must happen for that event to happen...or nothing will make sense. And that leads right to the railroad being needed.

BayardSPSR
2016-03-31, 07:33 PM
It can be random, but still make logical sense.

This is true, but not what people mean. I and others in this thread are using the word "random" to describe things that happen without a causal relationship to their context. By this understanding, if a GM is making a decision based on some kind of context (for instance, their own plan, or the actions of players), that decision is not random. This is what people are referring to when they talk about improvisation. A decision can be made randomly, and a GM can then justify it after the fact (in order to not produce chaos), but that means something different - the decision is being made to make logical sense, rather than being made because it makes logical sense. The justification is improvised, rather than the decision itself.


Though I'd say it is impossible for the DM to be ''stuck'' like you suggest. Where, somehow, it is impossible for the DM to have the story continue. The DM can do anything. The only way a DM can get stuck is if they let it happen.

I agree with you completely on this point; being "stuck" is a failure of imagination on the part of everyone at the table, which can be easily solved by taking some time to brainstorm.

That said, I think what Cluedrew (please correct me if I'm wrong) meant was that a GM maneuvering players to their original narrative when the players have gotten that narrative "stuck," rather than improvising to create a new narrative based on the players' actions, would be railroading. That is, making decisions based on their own planned narrative, rather than what the players are actually doing.


It seems like they are? The DM either has a plan/plot/story or everything is random. There is no room for middle ground. A lot of people are just saying that as a DM they don't have a ''plan/plot/story'' so they can stand on their high horse and say ''they never railroad''.

Planning is not railroading, and improvising is not random.

I'm trying to distinguish between "planned" and "improvised" GM actions as two different kinds of GM decision-making, where "planned" decisions are made based on GM preparations prior to and independent of player actions, and "improvised" decisions are made based on player actions and other things that have happened in the course of play. For me, "railroading" is taking decisions to force a specific, planned narrative despite the incompatibility of events at the table (neutralizing deliberate player decisions to avoid that narrative is an egregious example). Ironically, this makes "railroading" "making improvised decisions to force a specific planned narrative," since by definition it's impossible to have planned a specific response to events that don't align with your plan. "Random," in my use, describes decisions that are made without a relationship to a plan or to events at the table (rolling on an encounter table, for instance, or rolling to see whether an NPC's action succeeds). None of these four words (planned, improvised, railroading, and random) is inherently good or bad, or inherently preferable to players; all are context-dependent. And "railroading" and "random" are not a binary.

OldTrees1
2016-03-31, 08:23 PM
It seems like they are? The DM either has a plan/plot/story or everything is random. There is no room for middle ground.

In English there is plenty of middle ground between those 2. Since you are not using the English word "random", would you please define the Ultronian word "random" (preferably in English words)? Because you are not using that word the way anyone else here uses it.

ImNotTrevor
2016-03-31, 09:33 PM
So this is the closest approximation to a definition of random I could find that makes Ultron sorta kinda close to right:
"lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern."

So in order to be random, it must lack
A) a plan
B) a purpose
C) a pattern

It must lack all three for the same grammatical reason why when we say that
"The store doesn't have beer or chips"
It means that the store has neither, not that it either is out of one or the other.

So back to my presented scenario:

The professor's existence is not Planned.
But the professor's existence has a Purpose (to provide information, to flesh out the world, and whathaveyou)
The professor's existence in this case does follow a pattern (Space Harvard has professors for the studies of things that exist, and so her existence completes the pattern.)

So no, definitionally, her existence is not Random. But it is also not pre-planned. That is why we use the term Improvise, meaning:
1
: to compose, recite, play, or sing extemporaneously
2
: to make, invent, or arrange offhand
3
: to make or fabricate out of what is conveniently on hand <improvise a meal>

You will notice that in none of its definitions is Improvisation implied to be random. And in fact, the third definition (which applies beautifully in the presented scenario) absolutely indicates the existence of purpose.

So basically:

To insist that it is random requires talking out one's waste chute.

So I ask again:

Now that it has been resoundly proven not to be random nor railroading, WHAT IS IT?

(Oh, and dont let Darth Ultron get away with ignoring this post, because he has a pattern of ignoring the strongest counterarguments.)

Cluedrew
2016-03-31, 09:42 PM
At best your definition of railroading is still ''if the players don't like it''. At worst it's just pure anarchy. Where the players are demanding a random world that just reacts to them and the DM never ever has a plan other then to wait on the players.I have no proper reply to this because I have no idea how you got this from the definition I gave. Can you lay it out very simply? Like showing every implication of my definition that lead you to this conclusion? I mean you might be right... but right now I don't see it.


Though I'd say it is impossible for the DM to be ''stuck'' like you suggest. Where, somehow, it is impossible for the DM to have the story continue. The DM can do anything. The only way a DM can get stuck is if they let it happen.On the other hand I do have a response for this one. There has been a misunderstanding (and for BayardSPSR too) story isn't stuck I don't think I even used that word, but its original path is closed off. Say for instance originally the party was supposed to save the princess and now the princess is dead (non-D&D game with no resurrection), so that simply is not even an option any more. The story may still progress just not along the original planned path.


The DM either has a plan/plot/story or everything is random. There is no room for middle ground.There is always room for middle ground. What if the players improves the plot for a session when the DM needs a break? Everything follows from the events before it but the DM had no idea what was going to happen. I suppose you could argue the plan was in that case was to hand things over to the players, but if you extend the definition like that then even a purely random game (if one can exist) would be planned because the plan is to let things proceed randomly.

To ImNotTrevor: My definition of random roughly means you cannot predict the event before it occurs. Think of dice rolls.

goto124
2016-03-31, 10:32 PM
Does Darth makes video games or write novels?

Piedmon_Sama
2016-03-31, 11:20 PM
I'm in the possibly-somewhat-unique position of being a DM who actually prefers open-world/sandbox type gaming, with players who tend to prefer event-based/plotted adventures, even though there's no question the former require more work and effort to pull off well. More than once this has resulted in frustration whenever I thought I was giving my players an opportunity to explore or "move freely" and got only blank looks and silence in response.

A big difference between my players and I is that I love the more logistical side of D&D---maps, shopping lists, supplies, tracking the passage of time, keeping track of XP, money and other resources.... all of that is fun for me and I meticulously record a lot of it, usually only to be met with endless passive-aggressive resistance by my players who simply refuse to keep track of supplies or time or even their own XP (I put my foot down on that last one!) "I let you do that [keep track of campaign time/inventory] because I know you love it, but to me it just doesn't matter," said my best friend once before I slammed his face into the minis mat about a dozen times HA HA (or so I wish).

In the end all games will be a compromise. The Platonic-ideal-perfect-game cannot be realized outside everyone's own yearnings, because everyone's perfect game is different. That's the thing that makes RPGs great though----anyone can stay at home and design the perfect scenario for themselves, but you have to have the unpredictability that only comes from dealing with other people!

goto124
2016-03-31, 11:24 PM
The Platonic-ideal-perfect-game cannot be realized outside everyone's own yearnings,

What about games about romances though? :smalltongue:

SethoMarkus
2016-03-31, 11:26 PM
Though I'd wonder how a normal non-sandbox game is run with no Railroading, Quantum Ogres, story, plot or the DM ''wanting'' or ''planning'' on doing anything.

If you have an answer, just remember it can't have:

A)Anything done to the PC's that they can't not avoid or nullify easily.
B)Can't even have a basic story or plot. This does include plot hooks too.
C)Can't have the utterly stupid ''consequence'' or ''the NPC did it'' defense. This is where the DM does something, but hides behind a consequence (''The PC's stole the diamond so the cops will come after them'') or a NPC's actions(''Lord Othorn wants to hunt down all magic users, not me the DM'').



I doubt that they can give you one. After all their basic argument is that good encounters just kinda sorta happen.


This makes no sense to me. The players are very limited by the game reality and what their individual characters can do. The DM can do anything. The only way what your saying makes any sense is if you limit the DM just like the players. So everyone is ''equal''.

Like lets take the typical not so bright or clever DM who has also said ''I'm going to limit what I can do down to the level of the players''. So the short sighted DM just gets beyond flustered as soon as the players ''turn left''. And if the DM does anything to ''get out of the corner'', it's railroading?

I just don't get the attitude of ''unless the DM is a slave to the players whims , it's railroading''.


Random. It's only a railroad if the Dm makes up the NPC before the game starts and then alters the game reality so the PC's ''have'' to meet the character.

But the DM is stuck before the game even begins, because if they have any expectations it's railroading.

Piedmon_Sama
2016-03-31, 11:27 PM
What about games about romances though? :smalltongue:

Don't even Aristartle with me!

BayardSPSR
2016-04-01, 12:14 AM
There has been a misunderstanding (and for BayardSPSR too) story isn't stuck I don't think I even used that word, but its original path is closed off. Say for instance originally the party was supposed to save the princess and now the princess is dead (non-D&D game with no resurrection), so that simply is not even an option any more. The story may still progress just not along the original planned path.

That's consistent with what I was trying to say.


There is always room for middle ground. What if the players improves the plot for a session when the DM needs a break? Everything follows from the events before it but the DM had no idea what was going to happen. I suppose you could argue the plan was in that case was to hand things over to the players, but if you extend the definition like that then even a purely random game (if one can exist) would be planned because the plan is to let things proceed randomly.

"Random," "planned," "railroading," and "improvised" aren't mutually exclusive. You can plan a random table and improvise a railroad, for instance. In theory, by inappropriately adhering to a plan to randomize everything, refusing to allow player actions to have any meaning or impact, you could railroad randomness.

Lorsa
2016-04-01, 01:02 AM
What about games about romances though? :smalltongue:

What have the romance ever done for us?

RazorChain
2016-04-01, 02:30 AM
What have the romance ever done for us?

What have you ever done for romance? :smallbiggrin:

RazorChain
2016-04-01, 03:12 AM
It seems like they are? The DM either has a plan/plot/story or everything is random. There is no room for middle ground. A lot of people are just saying that as a DM they don't have a ''plan/plot/story'' so they can stand on their high horse and say ''they never railroad''.

Even if the odd Dm with no plot/plan/story just sits there and reacts, there comes a point where that is impossible. Say the PC's walk around town, at random as there is no plot/plan/story for them to follow. They meet NPC and encounter events, but once things are put in the game, they are mostly set. Once the DM says ''the kings ball is three days from now'', that gets a ''soft lock'' in the game reality. Sure anything can be changed, but most of the game reality must happen ''as normal'' or your just playing pure chaos. But that ''soft lock'' is the start of a plot/plan/story, as things in the world must happen for that event to happen...or nothing will make sense. And that leads right to the railroad being needed.


There is no soft-lock. The GM obviously can't track every minuscule detail of a world but throws out plots that may be relevant. Having a plot or a storyline is not the same thing as railroading unless you force your players actions. The players can always chose to go to the ball or not. IF the GM forces them to go then it's railroading. If the players use their own free will then it is not railroading.

Let me give you an example

I offer a friend a cookie, he says yes. When I bring the cookie he has changed his mind but I force feed him anyway.
I offer a friend a cookie, he says no, I force feed him the cookie anyway.
I offer a friend a cookie, he says maybe, I force feed him the cookie anyway.

Railroading: Laying tracks that player characters can't leave. The tracks start at point A and go to point B and C and D.

I'm starting to think you don't get the definition of railroading. We are not discussing free will vs determinism or Chaos vs Order.

Lorsa
2016-04-01, 05:07 AM
I just don't get the attitude of ''unless the DM is a slave to the players whims , it's railroading''.

Well, luckily for you, no one has said that.



Not railroading again. But it does have the lame lawyer defense of ''if the DM can be a jerk lawyer/con man type and fool the players, then it is all good''.

How did that scenario fit into a jerk lawyer/con man DM? If the players ask "does Harvard have a professor of clowning?" and the DM says "no, it doesn't", how is that being a jerk?




Odd, both fit pure randomness to me. Or were you confusing randomness with chaos? Are you thinking ''randomness'' must be like ''oh the dean is..a two headed chicken ninja alien'', because it must be ''random''? It can be random, but still make logical sense.

I think you are confusing chaotic with nonsensical. If the DM was constantly changing the game rules, it would be chaos. Having a dean of a university being a two-headed chicken ninja alien is just nonsensical.

Random would be if, when the players ask if there is a professor of supernatural studies, you flip a coin and have heads = yes, tails = no. THAT is random.

Sometimes random makes logical sense. Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes, logical sense dictates that something is best selected through randomization. Other times, it does not, nor is does random always make sense.

Answering "yes" to a question, when "yes" is the most logical answer, given the premise of the game world, is NOT random. Improvising an NPC based on aforementioned answer is not random either.

Random is when you let something be up to chance.

In mathematics, you can detect the difference between randomness and chaos by looking at the second outcome. True randomness does not depend on the outcome of an earlier random outcome, (the probability of getting a 6 on a d6 is the same regardless of the previous roll), whereas for a chaotic system the second outcome is dependent upon the previous.

So to be honest, the situation described above is a lot more chaotic than it is random. Each decision will be affected by the previous decisions, even if the end result is not known (either by the players or the DM (as the DM doesn't know what the players will ask next)).



Though i'd say your example DM is a bad DM, and quite inexperienced. Creating ''obvious NPC's the PC's might want to interact with'' is really basic Dming.

If it is so basic, how come it so many people have trouble with it?

Also, how is it bad DMing to respond to a question with the most logical answer, given the premise of the world?

An inexperienced DM might answer "no", simply because they hadn't devised such an NPC beforehand, despite it being the illogical choice.



It seems like they are? The DM either has a plan/plot/story or everything is random. There is no room for middle ground. A lot of people are just saying that as a DM they don't have a ''plan/plot/story'' so they can stand on their high horse and say ''they never railroad''.

The statement "the DM either has a plan/plot/story or everything is random" is plain wrong.

People are saying "they never railroad" because they want to show others it is possible to have a roleplaying game without it, as some people seem to believe it isn't. Mind you, I don't think anyone ever said "I never railroad", rather "I try to avoid railroading as much as possible".



Even if the odd Dm with no plot/plan/story just sits there and reacts, there comes a point where that is impossible. Say the PC's walk around town, at random as there is no plot/plan/story for them to follow. They meet NPC and encounter events, but once things are put in the game, they are mostly set. Once the DM says ''the kings ball is three days from now'', that gets a ''soft lock'' in the game reality. Sure anything can be changed, but most of the game reality must happen ''as normal'' or your just playing pure chaos. But that ''soft lock'' is the start of a plot/plan/story, as things in the world must happen for that event to happen...or nothing will make sense. And that leads right to the railroad being needed.

A soft lock does not a railroad make. Railroading occurs when your soft lock becomes a hard lock, unchangeable regardless of actions that would logically change it.

Say the DM says "the king's ball is in three days from now", but the players kill the king? Or the event organizers? Or destroys the castle? Or any other action that would plausibly change the occurrence of the ball.

If the DM disallows these actions, then it is railroading.

If the DM allows them, and thus changes the world so that "the king's ball is no longer in three days from now", then it is not.

Cluedrew
2016-04-01, 06:45 AM
That's consistent with what I was trying to say.Right, the misunderstanding seems to have been on my side. I re-read it and realized I missed the word "rather", which change the meaning of the rest of the sentence.


I'm starting to think you don't get the definition of railroading.To be fair, from what I gather Darth Ultron simply doesn't use the same definition of railroading... which is OK but it does get confusing when he doesn't clarify that. Which makes me think of something else. What exactly is your definition of railroading Darth Ultron? You have said a lot about what railroading isn't but can you explain what you thing railroading is?

Unless you already did and I forgot...

Segev
2016-04-01, 09:23 AM
Say the PC's walk around town, at random as there is no plot/plan/story for them to follow.

So... everything players do, if not railroaded into it by the DM, is random? Players never have their characters follow non-random courses of action based on prior events in the game, their own PCs' backstories, or what's going on right then?

If the game takes place at Space Harvard, and the GM tells them "it's lunch time on a typical day," is that railroading because he dictated a time? No. That's him starting the scene. If he then asks, "What are your characters doing at this time?" the players' responses are probably not random. They may be extemporaneous, but they'll be based on the characters they've built and the personalities and histories they gave them.

The undergrad is in the cafeteria, because it's lunch time and he has nothing better to be doing.

The member of the Newspaper club/class decides she's interviewing the President of Space Harvard over lunch, in a rare visit of said President to the campus cafeteria for this news story she's working on. (The GM okays this, as he had no particular plans for the President at this time in this scene, and he can use it as a chance to drop some hints as to things that the President will be important for later.)

The Ph.D. candidate in astro hyper biophysics is skipping lunch - again - because he's immersed in his research and has 3 hours between classes (one he's taking, one he's teaching).

Etc. None of this is "random." Except for the Ph.D. candidate, it was extemporaneous and improvised, but they made sense based on who the PCs were. (The Ph.D. candidate had actually established that his typical pattern is to skip lunch to work on his project(s) when he developed the character, so he had the answer ready to go.)

kyoryu
2016-04-01, 03:06 PM
So, maybe I'll take a different tack on explaining this.

In most RPGs, there are clear areas where the participants (player and GM) get decision-making power. The players get control over the actions of their characters (within the limits of the characters' capabilities, which is often a source of contention), and the GM gets control over everything else.

So, the first part of railroading is the GM inappropriately controlling the actions of PCs. This can be done in many ways - by forbidding all courses of actions except one, by invisibly making the actions all have the same result, etc.

And that's fairly bad, but it's not railroading in and of itself.

So, let's say our hypothetical GM comes up with a setup for his or her game. The PCs will go to the king's ball, find out about the treachery of Duke Baddington, scope out Duke Baddington's estate, find out that he's working with the Zomblords, track the Zomblords back to their home, and so on and so forth.

We can think of these as a set of encounters or scenes:

1) Go to King's Ball, find out about Duke Baddington
2) Investigate the estate, find out about the Zomblords
3) Track the Zomblords back
4) ...

Now we're getting close to what railroading is. Railroading is using the GM's power to inappropriately control the PCs actions to maintain the integrity of their pre-planned sequence of events.

So, in this case, let's say the players don't want to go to the Ball. Well, if they don't, the game is ruined. So the GM starts throwing out more hints that they should. If the PCs have patrons, they start getting orders. Eventually, if the GM gets frustrated enough, the PCs could get arrested and told they have to work as guards or staff at the Ball as a punishment (probably with a geas).

It's ultimately a control argument, with the players just not wanting to go to the damn Ball, and the GM insisting they do.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-02, 01:06 PM
What exactly is your definition of railroading Darth Ultron? You have said a lot about what railroading isn't but can you explain what you thing railroading is?


I'm defining railroading as when the DM forces the players to follow a singe thing, such as a plot/plan/story.



So... everything players do, if not railroaded into it by the DM, is random? Players never have their characters follow non-random courses of action based on prior events in the game, their own PCs' backstories, or what's going on right then?

If the game takes place at Space Harvard, and the GM tells them "it's lunch time on a typical day,"

If the players do something that is not random, that would require a plot/plan/story. And as soon as you have that, you have railroading.

Ok, take Space Harvard at lunch. The DM makes the ''Space Bully Encounter'' where, per a character's back story the bully attacks them again. So, if the players just willing have their characters go to lunch in the cafeteria it's just Reverse Railroading(aka Quantum Ogre) as the DM puts the encounter in the PC's path. If the players make any attempt to not eat at the cafeteria and the DM does anything to ''force'' them to do so, it's railroading. And if the Space Bully shows up no matter where the Pc's eat, then RR(QO) again.

So, the above describes a normal game. Everyone is talking about some type of odd game. Like say the DM does not ''make'' the space bully encounter, so nothing in the game happens(fun!). Or if the DM just ''reacts'' to the players at random: So a PC says ''gosh I hope we don't run into my nemesis Bully Bob at lunch'' and the DM spontaneously ''improvises'' and creates that encounter.

So, because the odd DM did not ''plan'' the bully encounter, it can't be railroading, as very technically the DM did not ''plan'' for it to happen.

So you only have three choices: Force the PC's to have an encounter, Drop the encounter on the PCs or ''improvise'' the non-encounter on top of the PCs.

SethoMarkus
2016-04-02, 02:14 PM
I'm defining railroading as when the DM forces the players to follow a singe thing, such as a plot/plan/story.

-snip-

So you only have three choices: Force the PC's to have an encounter, Drop the encounter on the PCs or ''improvise'' the non-encounter on top of the PCs.

What about the fourth option of the PCs willingly walk into an encounter? For example, the aforementioned bully is standing in the cafeteria as the PCs decide on their own to enter the cafeteria, and te PCs walk up to the bully and initiate a confrontation? (In this exame the bully is not aware of the PCs until they approach, and would leave the PCs alone if they do not initiate the encounter.)

Also, your definition of railroading has very little to do with any of the examples you gave.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-02, 02:35 PM
What about the fourth option of the PCs willingly walk into an encounter? For example, the aforementioned bully is standing in the cafeteria as the PCs decide on their own to enter the cafeteria, and te PCs walk up to the bully and initiate a confrontation? (In this exame the bully is not aware of the PCs until they approach, and would leave the PCs alone if they do not initiate the encounter.)

Also, your definition of railroading has very little to do with any of the examples you gave.

If the PC's willing walk to an encounter it's not exactly ''railroading'' or the ''ogre'', but it's exactly like saying it's not railroading when the DM does something ''logical''/''makes sense''/''has to happen''/''has to be the consequences'' or such.

Though, having a bully be in the cafeteria, no matter how ''logical'', at the exact moment the PCs enter is a coincidence and a set up. And this is normal for all fiction, of course. And the PC are really close to ''metagaming'' as they likely are thinking ''oh, a cool and fun encounter'' and not the more robotic ''my character would do this because of this''.

And if the DM lets the PC's not have every encounter, then nothing will ever happen in the game. To most this would be a very boring game, but I'd guess some people would like doing nothing.

How does my example(though Space Harvard is really Segev's example) not have railroading? The ''. If the players make any attempt to not eat at the cafeteria and the DM does anything to ''force'' them to do so, it's railroading'' is railroading.

SethoMarkus
2016-04-02, 04:27 PM
If the PC's willing walk to an encounter it's not exactly ''railroading'' or the ''ogre'', but it's exactly like saying it's not railroading when the DM does something ''logical''/''makes sense''/''has to happen''/''has to be the consequences'' or such.

Though, having a bully be in the cafeteria, no matter how ''logical'', at the exact moment the PCs enter is a coincidence and a set up. And this is normal for all fiction, of course. And the PC are really close to ''metagaming'' as they likely are thinking ''oh, a cool and fun encounter'' and not the more robotic ''my character would do this because of this''.

And if the DM lets the PC's not have every encounter, then nothing will ever happen in the game. To most this would be a very boring game, but I'd guess some people would like doing nothing.

How does my example(though Space Harvard is really Segev's example) not have railroading? The ''. If the players make any attempt to not eat at the cafeteria and the DM does anything to ''force'' them to do so, it's railroading'' is railroading.

If the DM forces them into the cafeteria no matter what, yes it is railroading. If the DM says that t is 1:00pm and the PCs aren't in class so they go to lunch, then that is not railroading. The bully is in the cafeteria because it is lunch time. It is not "convenient", merely a simulation of the NPC being a realistic and living creature. And I believe that you vive PCs too little credit to engage themselves. I don't know about your group, but they sound to be horribly lacking in creativity or motivation if half f what you say is based on personal experience and not just conjecture.

Your issue is seeing railroading where none exists. You may consider it railroading, but that is not the same definition or concept of railroading that the vast majority of others hold. You can call a cactus a pokeytree all you want, and it's fine to refer to it that way for your own use, but no one else will understand what you're talking about. Similarly, you can call a story within a campaign railroading by virtue of simply existing, but you'll be hard pressed to gain a consensus on that.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-02, 08:13 PM
If the DM forces them into the cafeteria no matter what, yes it is railroading. If the DM says that t is 1:00pm and the PCs aren't in class so they go to lunch, then that is not railroading.

If the DM ''just says something'' this is the worst type of Railroading. When the DM just says: ''It's lunch time so all your characters go to the cafeteria to eat'' that is really bad railroading. The DM should always give the players an illusion of choice.



The bully is in the cafeteria because it is lunch time. It is not "convenient", merely a simulation of the NPC being a realistic and living creature. And I believe that you vive PCs too little credit to engage themselves. I don't know about your group, but they sound to be horribly lacking in creativity or motivation if half f what you say is based on personal experience and not just conjecture.

Your going to the ''as long as the DM can talk his way out of the situation and foll the players, it's not railroading''. The DM can do anything, as long as they can fool the players into going along with whatever it is.



Your issue is seeing railroading where none exists. You may consider it railroading, but that is not the same definition or concept of railroading that the vast majority of others hold. You can call a cactus a pokeytree all you want, and it's fine to refer to it that way for your own use, but no one else will understand what you're talking about. Similarly, you can call a story within a campaign railroading by virtue of simply existing, but you'll be hard pressed to gain a consensus on that.

I guess this is where I ask what is our definition?

Is it by chance ''railroading is when a DM does anything in the game that they can not trick, fool or convince the players is normal, logical, realistic, convenient, or possible''? That seems to be what your saying, right?

So, the PC's sneak into the school at night and

A)DM says ''all the doors in the main hallway are closed and locked..only the one door at the end is unlocked'', is railroading. But

B)DM says ''All the doors are locked in the main hallway, as the school security policy says all doors must be closed and locked after 6pm, the only door that is unlocked is at the end of the hallway'' is not railroading as he gave an explanation. Assuming the players believe the idea of ''a scroll locks it's doors at night'', of course.

Milo v3
2016-04-02, 08:21 PM
If the DM ''just says something'' this is the worst type of Railroading.
Talking =! Railroading.


When the DM just says: ''It's lunch time so all your characters go to the cafeteria to eat'' that is really bad railroading.
He didn't say ''It's lunch time so all your characters go to the cafeteria to eat'' though, so that's irrelevant.


The DM should always give the players an illusion of choice.
Or choice. Choice works too.



A)DM says ''all the doors in the main hallway are closed and locked..only the one door at the end is unlocked'', is railroading. But

B)DM says ''All the doors are locked in the main hallway, as the school security policy says all doors must be closed and locked after 6pm, the only door that is unlocked is at the end of the hallway'' is not railroading as he gave an explanation. Assuming the players believe the idea of ''a scroll locks it's doors at night'', of course.
Why would the door at the hallway be unlocked in B? That goes against "All the doors are locked in the main hallway, as the school security policy says all doors must be closed and locked after 6pm"

Also... neither of those is railroading "yet". Since you haven't forced anything. I mean, they can just knock the door down, pick the lock, steal a key, go through a window, etc.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-02, 08:31 PM
Talking =! Railroading.He didn't say ''It's lunch time so all your characters go to the cafeteria to eat'' though, so that's irrelevant.

Um, that is exactly what he said:


If the DM says that t is 1:00pm and the PCs aren't in class so they go to lunch,





Or choice. Choice works too.

Ok, so how does this ''choice'' work other then the players can choose not to play the game?

So the DM has made the Bully Encounter. How does he run it?

A)He places the encounter in a place and railroads the Pcs there.
B)He gives the Pc's the illusion of choice and lets them go anywhere...but no matter where they go the Bully Encounter is there.
C) He places the encounter in a spot, then lets the PCs choose to do anything. If the PCs choose to not go to the spot, nothing happens in the game. The PC's have a boring and uneventful lunch.



Why would the door at the hallway be unlocked in B? That goes against "All the doors are locked in the main hallway, as the school security policy says all doors must be closed and locked after 6pm"

Also... neither of those is railroading "yet". Since you haven't forced anything. I mean, they can just knock the door down, pick the lock, steal a key, go through a window, etc.

The unlocked door is a plot/story type thing....see there is a reason it's unlocked. But it's also railroading as it forces the Pc's down that path.

And yes, it's only Jerk Railroading if the DM says ''all the doors are impossible to open in any way, so you all go over to the unlocked door and open it''.

So, sure the DM can let the players ''be amazing and clever'' and open every other door in the building somehow. But they will all be just rooms of fluff and dressing with noting related to the story/plot. But the Pc's can waste as much time going in random rooms as they want too, but an encounter only waits behind the unlocked door.

Dr_Dinosaur
2016-04-02, 08:43 PM
I get more certain every time they post that Ultron is a repeat performance by Jedipotter. They're methodology and habit of weird definitions of common terms is just so similar...

Anyway, I personally define railroading as setting up circumstances, logical or not, that force the characters into the actions and events you wrote for them, similar to the way most video games are planned out and scripted. It's not always bad, and some players prefer that style in much the same way people enjoy rail shooters and Telltale games. I always try to make sure my players want a ticket before leaving the station though.

Milo v3
2016-04-02, 09:00 PM
Um, that is exactly what he said:
Saying they go to eat =! cafeteria. I have never actually eaten in a cafeteria at any stage during my education so I wouldn't be surprised if players decided their characters eat elsewhere.


Ok, so how does this ''choice'' work other then the players can choose not to play the game?

So the DM has made the Bully Encounter. How does he run it?

A)He places the encounter in a place and railroads the Pcs there.
B)He gives the Pc's the illusion of choice and lets them go anywhere...but no matter where they go the Bully Encounter is there.
C) He places the encounter in a spot, then lets the PCs choose to do anything. If the PCs choose to not go to the spot, nothing happens in the game. The PC's have a boring and uneventful lunch.
C-ish. Instead of "He places the encounter in a spot, then lets the PCs choose to do anything. If the PCs choose to not go to the spot, nothing happens in the game. The PC's have a boring and uneventful lunch."
it is
"He places an encounter in a spot, then lets the PCs choose to do anything within the limits of the setting and ruleset. If the PCs choose to not go to the spot, then they don't come in contact with that specific encounter since they weren't there to witness it."


But it's also railroading as it forces the Pc's down that path.
No it didn't, since the players do not have to go through that unlocked door in your example. Since the PC's weren't forced down that path.... they weren't forced down that path.... A = A.


So, sure the DM can let the players ''be amazing and clever'' and open every other door in the building somehow. But they will all be just rooms of fluff and dressing with noting related to the story/plot.
Which is fine. Even if all the rooms were like this and there was no planned encounter in the whole building, that can be fine.


But the Pc's can waste as much time going in random rooms as they want too, but an encounter only waits behind the unlocked door.
Except, if it's not railroading, then other encounters will exist eventually or the players can make their own. They could decided to go home and never end up coming into contact with that one specific encounter. Which is fine.


I get more certain every time they post that Ultron is a repeat performance by Jedipotter. They're methodology and habit of weird definitions of common terms is just so similar...
Yeah that's getting to be a common theory.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-02, 09:24 PM
C-ish. Instead of "He places the encounter in a spot, then lets the PCs choose to do anything. If the PCs choose to not go to the spot, nothing happens in the game. The PC's have a boring and uneventful lunch."
it is
"He places an encounter in a spot, then lets the PCs choose to do anything within the limits of the setting and ruleset. If the PCs choose to not go to the spot, then they don't come in contact with that specific encounter since they weren't there to witness it."

Right, so it's not railroading as long as the DM gives the players a ''avoid the encounter'' way. But how do you have a game like this? Say you have a dozen encounters, but the players always choose to avoid them. So you just sit around and not play the game? You get a couple hours of the PC's going places in the game world, but not having any encounters?



No it didn't, since the players do not have to go through that unlocked door in your example. Since the PC's weren't forced down that path.... they weren't forced down that path.... A = A.

I'm not sure how you don't see the DM forcing the players down a path. Yes the players can, theoretically, choose to not even go down the hallway and effectively not play the game or they can waste time opening every other door in the whole game world and find nothing of any interest. So the theoreticals make it not a railroad? So it's only a railroad if it's the jerk DM doing the ''your characters walk down the hallway to door 13 and go inside'', while the players just sit and listen to the DM play the game by themselves?



Except, if it's not railroading, then other encounters will exist eventually or the players can make their own. They could decided to go home and never end up coming into contact with that one specific encounter. Which is fine..

Why is it fine for the players to say, in really the most being a jerk possible way, that they don't even want to play the game?

How do you stop the players from avoiding ALL the encounters?

OldTrees1
2016-04-02, 09:39 PM
So the DM has made the Bully Encounter. How does he run it?

A)He places the encounter in a place and railroads the Pcs there.
B)He gives the Pc's the illusion of choice and lets them go anywhere...but no matter where they go the Bully Encounter is there.
C) He places the encounter in a spot, then lets the PCs choose to do anything. If the PCs choose to not go to the spot, nothing happens in the game. The PC's have a boring and uneventful lunch.

Answer:C
Your conclusion of a boring uneventful lunch is merely 1 of dozens of possible outcomes. Yes it is a very real possibility that the PCs have a boring and uneventful lunch. However they might instead encounter the bully in the lunchroom, witness a theft in a nearby cafe, get chewed out for eating in the hall, throw a lunch party in the gym, overhear some gossip, or even snack while sketching the next part of a plan.

The mere act of creating an encounter does not necessitate it being encountered ever.
The mere occurrence of an encounter being missed does not necessitate no encounter being encountered.
And even when no encounter is being encountered, the PCs are characters too. They have their own motives to pursue beyond the encounters you provide.


Say my Necromancer was a character in such a non railroaded campaign. Say too that I missed all the encounters the DM placed. Well, then our party shall pursue our own motives. I would suggest striking out into unclaimed lands to start up a new kingdom. Raising an undead army to defend our boarders and welcoming any(even monsters and fiends) provided they remain peaceful and harm none while within our lands. Voila! Even when all placed encounters are missed, the party shall walk into one of their own making.

Or perhaps my Dwarven Locksmith. If they missed all the encounters the DM placed, they might look for a guild/"guild" to join and expand. Voila! Even when all placed encounters are missed, the party shall walk into one of their own making. In this case the new circumstance might even lead back towards some existing encounters(but from another angle).

Milo v3
2016-04-02, 09:47 PM
Right, so it's not railroading as long as the DM gives the players a ''avoid the encounter'' way. But how do you have a game like this? Say you have a dozen encounters, but the players always choose to avoid them. So you just sit around and not play the game? You get a couple hours of the PC's going places in the game world, but not having any encounters?
In my ten to twelve years of gaming, I haven't had a session where people do nothing yet.


I'm not sure how you don't see the DM forcing the players down a path. Yes the players can, theoretically, choose to not even go down the hallway and effectively not play the game or they can waste time opening every other door in the whole game world and find nothing of any interest. So the theoreticals make it not a railroad? So it's only a railroad if it's the jerk DM doing the ''your characters walk down the hallway to door 13 and go inside'', while the players just sit and listen to the DM play the game by themselves?
Not necessarily. If the entire plot hinged on them going to that specific encounter, where if they do not go down the hallway the game basically stops. Then even with "they can do anything" it's a railroad. If the things player cannot progress outside of "Go through this specific door", then you have railroaded.


Why is it fine for the players to say, in really the most being a jerk possible way, that they don't even want to play the game?
If your player is being a jerk, they are being a jerk. But simply not ending up at your encounters =! not wanting to play the game.


How do you stop the players from avoiding ALL the encounters?
No idea. Never had to try to "stop the players from avoiding ALL the encounters". I mean, encounters I plan happen a decent enough portion of the time, but if they do avoid all the encounters nothing bad happens. I mean, sometimes I don't plan any encounters and I've played games where there is no GM or planned encounters.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-02, 10:48 PM
Answer:C
Your conclusion of a boring uneventful lunch is merely 1 of dozens of possible outcomes.

But it's not. Ok, the DM makes 100 encounters. The DM set each one, and the players simply avoid them all. So how do you even have a game?

I guess you can ''plan'' the bully encounter seven days a week, and let the players choose to avoid it endlessly. Though I guess on time 45 or so the players might finally say ''our characters go to the cafeteria to eat'' then the DM can finally run the encounter.



And even when no encounter is being encountered, the PCs are characters too. They have their own motives to pursue beyond the encounters you provide.

Sure, the players are free to not play the game at all and just free form role play. Though it's a bit of a jerk move to do this in a game.



Say my Necromancer was a character in such a non railroaded campaign. Say too that I missed all the encounters the DM placed. Well, then our party shall pursue our own motives. I would suggest striking out into unclaimed lands to start up a new kingdom. Raising an undead army to defend our boarders and welcoming any(even monsters and fiends) provided they remain peaceful and harm none while within our lands. Voila! Even when all placed encounters are missed, the party shall walk into one of their own making.

Ok, here is the big flaw with the players being a jerk to the DM, and it's not even the ''being a jerk part'' : it does not matter.

It really does not matter if it's the DM or the players that make up the idea of an encounter. So, say the DM just sits there and does nothing. Then Player McCool says ''we want to make a kingdom' and they point to a spot on the map. Ok, now see how this is full circle. Now the DM must make the ''Building a Kingdom adventure''. And the DM does this in exactly the same way they would do it if the players just sat there and did nothing and the DM said ''you guys will make a kingdom''.

Now when the players have the illusion of choice to pick what they want to do, it does make them feel all warm and fuzzy. But it does not effect the game play at all.

So the players, all warm and fuzzy, head over to the spot X they picked. The DM ''Quantum Ogres'' the ''orc tribe that lives there'' right in the PC's path. Now sure the PC's can see the tribe and turn left and avoid the encounter. But if they want ''spot X'' they must do ''something'' with the orc tribe. And yes the PC's can hop all over the map until the DM says ''nothing is there''.

And even if the PC's avoid doing anything with the tribe, you'd still get to ''how will you make an undead army?'' And this is again where the DM would make encounters. So the DM makes the ''Vampire lord of the city graveyard'' encounter, and when the players ''cleverly'' come up with the idea of grave robbing, they walk right into the encounter.


In my ten to twelve years of gaming, I haven't had a session where people do nothing yet.

I'd guess you could free form role playing as doing something then? If your playing a game, like say D&D, and the DM makes a D&D rules based encounter that the players avoid....well then your not playing D&D. Not that there is anything wrong with free form role playing, but I'd wonder why everyone made D&D characters if all they wanted to do was free form?



If your player is being a jerk, they are being a jerk. But simply not ending up at your encounters =! not wanting to play the game.

Ok, free form role playing aside....how do you say your ''playing a game'' when your not using the game rules? For example, some guys sit down to play poker. One guy stops the game to tell a funny story. As the guys are not doing any poker stuff...they are not ''playing poker'' during the story.

How do you play a game, but avoid all the encounters? It's like a football team going out on the feild, getting ready opposite the other team and then walking off the field to go talk in the parking lot.



No idea. Never had to try to "stop the players from avoiding ALL the encounters". I mean, encounters I plan happen a decent enough portion of the time, but if they do avoid all the encounters nothing bad happens. I mean, sometimes I don't plan any encounters and I've played games where there is no GM or planned encounters.

Ok, assuming your not talking about one of the RPGs with no DM, right?

So your saying you sprinkle the encounters in the game world....but never place them in the PC's path, right...and then just wait for the PC's to go to one?

So how does a RPG, with a DM/GM and encounters set down in the rules work? Are you talking about where the DM just does nothing? Where the players just say ''we go into the dark woods...for no reason'' and the DM ''improvises on the spot'' that ''oh, there are goblin bandits''. But that encounters was not ''planned'' by the DM, so it does not count, right?

And in your no GM/planned encounter game (that has both in the rules) have things happen anyway. Say the players say ''lets go explore and loot the old haunted house'', well how does the game move on from that point? The players go to the haunted house, but there is no GM to describe anything or even have a ''non-planned'' encounter....so what happens?

Milo v3
2016-04-02, 11:18 PM
I'd guess you could free form role playing as doing something then? If your playing a game, like say D&D, and the DM makes a D&D rules based encounter that the players avoid....well then your not playing D&D. Not that there is anything wrong with free form role playing, but I'd wonder why everyone made D&D characters if all they wanted to do was free form?
I've never played freeform. When players avoided encounters it was always in the ruleset of whichever game was being played. Why would you think freeform would have anything to do with this?


Ok, free form role playing aside....how do you say your ''playing a game'' when your not using the game rules? For example, some guys sit down to play poker. One guy stops the game to tell a funny story. As the guys are not doing any poker stuff...they are not ''playing poker'' during the story.
Rules are still happening. The game is still happening. My players once spent about half of a session just in the bar, roleplaying, and doing actions that required skill checks, saving throws, and some minor combat mechanics. Are you suggesting that it wasn't "Playing" the game just because I didn't shove a plot down their throat?


How do you play a game, but avoid all the encounters? It's like a football team going out on the feild, getting ready opposite the other team and then walking off the field to go talk in the parking lot.
If the players end up avoiding all the encounters, either:
1) You didn't make them properly, and they simply didn't interest the characters/players
2) Circumstance lead the characters into situations that you did not foresee and thus you didn't have encounters planned for those situations.
3) Your players are being jerks.

I have never encountered "3)".


Ok, assuming your not talking about one of the RPGs with no DM, right?

So your saying you sprinkle the encounters in the game world....but never place them in the PC's path, right...and then just wait for the PC's to go to one?
Some might be on the PC's path, but my players don't exactly have a "path". So I make a few encounters, put them in the "region" that the players will most likely be passing through during the session. Then if they go to one, then they go to one. If they don't then they don't. Something else might happen though. Who knows?


So how does a RPG, with a DM/GM and encounters set down in the rules work? Are you talking about where the DM just does nothing? Where the players just say ''we go into the dark woods...for no reason'' and the DM ''improvises on the spot'' that ''oh, there are goblin bandits''. But that encounters was not ''planned'' by the DM, so it does not count, right?
If characters have no motives, then they generally shouldn't be characters in a more-sandbox game. I should say, I haven't played a game that says "Planned encounters have to happen all the time" is a rule. Pathfinder definitely doesn't have that as a rule and that's my primary system.


And in your no GM/planned encounter game (that has both in the rules) have things happen anyway. Say the players say ''lets go explore and loot the old haunted house'', well how does the game move on from that point? The players go to the haunted house, but there is no GM to describe anything or even have a ''non-planned'' encounter....so what happens?
In the game we played, the one characters would have either have made the house or made something that made the house so they would likely provide most description for the other players in this specific example.

I mean, the best encounter in that game I've had was one where it was just my PC and another player's PC reacting to the acts of a group of PC's causing a world-changing event without our knowledge resulting eventually into the encounter of "God of Fire and Destruction trying to fight to the death with the God of Earth and the Wild in space standing on a giant solid rainbow that encapsulated the planet." Brilliant encounter, the mechanics, roleplaying, and tension was amazing. With not a single bit of pre-planning.

OldTrees1
2016-04-02, 11:45 PM
But it's not. Ok, the DM makes 100 encounters. The DM set each one, and the players simply avoid them all. So how do you even have a game?

I guess you can ''plan'' the bully encounter seven days a week, and let the players choose to avoid it endlessly. Though I guess on time 45 or so the players might finally say ''our characters go to the cafeteria to eat'' then the DM can finally run the encounter.
Do the PCs have motives or are they flat? Motives result in story. And that is even after the unrealistic presumption of your that the PCs would miss all 100 different distinct encounters.



Sure, the players are free to not play the game at all and just free form role play. Though it's a bit of a jerk move to do this in a game.
In the rare case that the player that want to encounter your encounters missed the encounters you placed as a result of you not forcing those encounters, I would not call that a jerk move. Just go with the flow until the PCs encounter yet another placed encounter. Have fun with your friends(you are friends and you are playing for the RP right?).



Ok, here is the big flaw with the players being a jerk to the DM, and it's not even the ''being a jerk part'' : it does not matter.

It really does not matter if it's the DM or the players that make up the idea of an encounter. So, say the DM just sits there and does nothing. Then Player McCool says ''we want to make a kingdom' and they point to a spot on the map. Ok, now see how this is full circle. Now the DM must make the ''Building a Kingdom adventure''. And the DM does this in exactly the same way they would do it if the players just sat there and did nothing and the DM said ''you guys will make a kingdom''.

Now when the players have the illusion of choice to pick what they want to do, it does make them feel all warm and fuzzy. But it does not effect the game play at all.

So the players, all warm and fuzzy, head over to the spot X they picked. The DM ''Quantum Ogres'' the ''orc tribe that lives there'' right in the PC's path. Now sure the PC's can see the tribe and turn left and avoid the encounter. But if they want ''spot X'' they must do ''something'' with the orc tribe. And yes the PC's can hop all over the map until the DM says ''nothing is there''.

And even if the PC's avoid doing anything with the tribe, you'd still get to ''how will you make an undead army?'' And this is again where the DM would make encounters. So the DM makes the ''Vampire lord of the city graveyard'' encounter, and when the players ''cleverly'' come up with the idea of grave robbing, they walk right into the encounter.
You really have no respect for anyone other than yourself do you? It is not merely intentionally disregarding the goals and motives of the PCs, you literally cannot imagine the players could respect you.

However I will give you a chance for redemption. Here is a game: I chose 13 letters. Each turn you will select a letter if it is one I choose you win. Otherwise wait 5 seconds and then choose a letter again. Now calculate the probability of winning after 30 seconds (6 draws with 13 winning options out of 26). Nah I will do it for you (1-0.5^6 = 98% chance of the PCs encountering a placed encounter)

Darth Ultron
2016-04-02, 11:47 PM
I've never played freeform. When players avoided encounters it was always in the ruleset of whichever game was being played. Why would you think freeform would have anything to do with this?

Ok, guess I'm confused. So, playing by the game rules the DM makes and encounter. Then the players avoid it. So, nothing happens in the game. So, your saying ''something'' happens, but it's not game play? And it's not free form role playing? So what happens?

Is it just ''oh well the players did not choose to do encounter A'', guess I'll just try B or C...and hope they don't avoid them too''.



Rules are still happening. The game is still happening. My players once spent about half of a session just in the bar, roleplaying, and doing actions that required skill checks, saving throws, and some minor combat mechanics. Are you suggesting that it wasn't "Playing" the game just because I didn't shove a plot down their throat?

Yes, if your just ''role playing hanging out in a bar'', that is not exactly something for a game like D&D. You could be playing Cheers the RPG or something.



If the players end up avoiding all the encounters, either:
1) You didn't make them properly, and they simply didn't interest the characters/players
2) Circumstance lead the characters into situations that you did not foresee and thus you didn't have encounters planned for those situations.
3) Your players are being jerks.

I have never encountered "3)".

1)How can a Dm not make an encounter properly? Remember, unless your metagaming ooc, the players won't even know about an encounter. Unless your playing some weird D&D variant where the DM makes an encounter, hands it to the players for review and then the players vote on if they want it to happen.

2)Well, putting encounters in all the likely places the Pc's might go is railroading, right? The same way dropping an encounter no matter where they go is the Ogre. The whole ''foresee'' thing is kinda dumb as the DM can have an encounter if they want too.



Some might be on the PC's path, but my players don't exactly have a "path". So I make a few encounters, put them in the "region" that the players will most likely be passing through during the session. Then if they go to one, then they go to one. If they don't then they don't. Something else might happen though. Who knows?

By ''path'' are you saying your game has no plot or story?

And if ''something else'', that is not an encounter, happens....then what happens? Free form role play?




If characters have no motives, then they generally shouldn't be characters in a more-sandbox game. I should say, I haven't played a game that says "Planned encounters have to happen all the time" is a rule. Pathfinder definitely doesn't have that as a rule and that's my primary system.

Are you saying that the Pathfinder Adventure Paths don't have planned encounters? Or that there are no rules in Pathfinder for encounters? So your odd version of Pathfinder does not, for example, have the ''Designing Encounters'' rules? My version of the Pathfinder rules sure says "The heart of any adventure is its encounters. An encounter is any event that puts a specific problem before the PCs that they must solve'' for example.



In the game we played, the one characters would have either have made the house or made something that made the house so they would likely provide most description for the other players in this specific example.

So...one player would be DM then?



I mean, the best encounter in that game I've had was one where it was just my PC and another player's PC reacting to the acts of a group of PC's causing a world-changing event without our knowledge resulting eventually into the encounter of "God of Fire and Destruction trying to fight to the death with the God of Earth and the Wild in space standing on a giant solid rainbow that encapsulated the planet." Brilliant encounter, the mechanics, roleplaying, and tension was amazing. With not a single bit of pre-planning.

It sounds like a bit much to be 100% pure improvisation. But I'll guess you'd say the DM did not pre plan even a tiny little thing, right?

And the DM made an Epic Brilliant Encounter without any pre planning?

OldTrees1
2016-04-02, 11:57 PM
It sounds like a bit much to be 100% pure improvisation. But I'll guess you'd say the DM did not pre plan even a tiny little thing, right?

And the DM made an Epic Brilliant Encounter without any pre planning?

Seriously that is a bit much? That sounds rather easy and flat(no offense Milo) to improvise. The PCs started talking among themselves. This resulted in the high level PCs deciding to try to out do one another. Their efforts were large scale enough to upset the balance of power native in the setting. This resulted in one side making an attack of opportunity. Honestly for it to get the kind of reaction Milo gave, it was probably more detailed that this pitifully easy improv.

Milo v3
2016-04-03, 12:15 AM
Ok, guess I'm confused. So, playing by the game rules the DM makes and encounter. Then the players avoid it. So, nothing happens in the game. So, your saying ''something'' happens, but it's not game play? And it's not free form role playing? So what happens?
The players avoid it, and do something else. And it is gameplay, not nothing, just not the encounter that the DM planned.


Is it just ''oh well the players did not choose to do encounter A'', guess I'll just try B or C...and hope they don't avoid them too''.
Nope.


Yes, if your just ''role playing hanging out in a bar'', that is not exactly something for a game like D&D. You could be playing Cheers the RPG or something.
Everything that happened used the rules, so it is valid for playing D&D with it. The adventure path even specifically lists the bar as existing and says some elements of the bar. Also, not just roleplaying the mechanics were involved as well.... and if you think D&D stops being D&D if you do stuff in a bar that's rather strange.


1)How can a Dm not make an encounter properly? Remember, unless your metagaming ooc, the players won't even know about an encounter. Unless your playing some weird D&D variant where the DM makes an encounter, hands it to the players for review and then the players vote on if they want it to happen.

Plot hooks, sometimes the players do not take plot hooks that would lead to the encounter if they aren't interested in it. Also, asking "How can a Dm not make an encounter properly?" is hilarious.


2)Well, putting encounters in all the likely places the Pc's might go is railroading, right? The same way dropping an encounter no matter where they go is the Ogre. The whole ''foresee'' thing is kinda dumb as the DM can have an encounter if they want too.
If you put them in the all the likely places, maybe (not necessarily, but it could end up being railroading depending on the specifics). But I put them in the region they are in, the region. Not the road they are travelling, not the district of the city. Since who knows where they might go.


By ''path'' are you saying your game has no plot or story?
Nope. They just might go a different way to what I first anticipated. For example, instead of going into the villains lair, they burnt the whole thing down including destroying the way people get to and from the lair. This resulted in a different story/plot than was planned, and caused tonnes of planned encounters to never have occurred. They didn't follow a path, they just did what they thought would be effective.


And if ''something else'', that is not an encounter, happens....then what happens? Free form role play?
Players might make encounters themselves as a result of their actions or simply roleplay or keep playing until they come across an encounter. The game doesn't stop just because they went left instead of right, when you had bandits on the right road.


Are you saying that the Pathfinder Adventure Paths don't have planned encounters?
Adventure Paths do have planned encounters. I never suggested there weren't. They just might never occur. There is no rule suggesting that the planned encounters in the book have to occur or that the encounters cannot be modified. Actually, the Adventure Path my group is currently running so far has acknowledged that there are many encounters that might be avoided (my group has avoided a great deal of them so far).


Or that there are no rules in Pathfinder for encounters?
There are rules for encounters. I never suggested there weren't.


So your odd version of Pathfinder does not, for example, have the ''Designing Encounters'' rules?
It has the Designing Encounters rules. I never suggested those rules do not exist.


My version of the Pathfinder rules sure says "The heart of any adventure is its encounters. An encounter is any event that puts a specific problem before the PCs that they must solve'' for example.
My copy also says that, and yet it does not conflict with my arguement so how is it relevant?


So...one player would be DM then?
Nope. For one I said the player who made the house or made the thing that made the house would likely do "Most" of the description. Any of the players involved in the situation would be deciding things.


It sounds like a bit much to be 100% pure improvisation. But I'll guess you'd say the DM did not pre plan even a tiny little thing, right?

And the DM made an Epic Brilliant Encounter without any pre planning?
There was no DM pre-planning anything because there was no DM, just improvisation between players following the rules.


That sounds rather easy and flat(no offense Milo) to improvise.

Honestly for it to get the kind of reaction Milo gave, it was probably more detailed that this pitifully easy improv.
1. It was very easy to improvise, that was the whole point of using it as an example.
2. What I said was a very simplified version of the event (and didn't discuss the events leading up to since that's a few months of time and is irrelevant to the point).

Darth Ultron
2016-04-03, 12:19 AM
Do the PCs have motives or are they flat? Motives result in story. And that is even after the unrealistic presumption of your that the PCs would miss all 100 different distinct encounters.

If the PC's have motives, then there must be a plot/story. And if there is a plot/story, then there is a railroad.




In the rare case that the player that want to encounter your encounters missed the encounters you placed as a result of you not forcing those encounters, I would not call that a jerk move. Just go with the flow until the PCs encounter yet another placed encounter. Have fun with your friends(you are friends and you are playing for the RP right?).

As I said, sitting around and not having encounters is a perfectly fine way to not play the game.




You really have no respect for anyone other than yourself do you? It is not merely intentionally disregarding the goals and motives of the PCs, you literally cannot imagine the players could respect you.

What?



However I will give you a chance for redemption. Here is a game: I chose 13 letters. Each turn you will select a letter if it is one I choose you win. Otherwise wait 5 seconds and then choose a letter again. Now calculate the probability of winning after 30 seconds (6 draws with 13 winning options out of 26). Nah I will do it for you (1-0.5^6 = 98% chance of the PCs encountering a placed encounter)

But RPG's are more complex then that?

And if your putting so many encounters out there, that every place the PCs go has one....well it's full circle again to forcing the players to have the encounters, right?

OldTrees1
2016-04-03, 12:34 AM
If the PC's have motives, then there must be a plot/story. And if there is a plot/story, then there is a railroad.
Huh? If I, as a player, give my character a motive(say the motive to carve out a utopia) that somehow means the DM did something? The DM is not the only person at the table. Learn to treat those other meatsacks as if they were beings too.



As I said, sitting around and not having encounters is a perfectly fine way to not play the game.
Uh huh. So the characters enacting plans you did not place encounters for is "not playing the game". Please give your players some respect.


What?
You heard me. You are constantly describing players as if their only thought is disrespect for you while also describing all their contributions as either random or your latest insanity "player character generation = DM railroading".




But RPG's are more complex then that?

And if your putting so many encounters out there, that every place the PCs go has one....well it's full circle again to forcing the players to have the encounters, right?
There is an RPG called real life where everything is already generated. There is no DM and no railroading. Specific encounters are not forced, but the only way to avoid life is to leave the game. Now imagine instead of the dull 2016 Earth setting it was Greyhawk instead. Still no railroading. Now let's say a DM designed the detailed setting. Still no railroading, just a world full of things that will react to your actions. (Including the Street thug bully in the villiage Agraia)

Darth Ultron
2016-04-03, 12:44 AM
The players avoid it, and do something else. And it is gameplay, not nothing, just not the encounter that the DM planned.

So your saying the DM just sets encounter A aside and tries with encounter B, right?



Everything that happened used the rules, so it is valid for playing D&D with it. The adventure path even specifically lists the bar as existing and says some elements of the bar. Also, not just roleplaying the mechanics were involved as well.... and if you think D&D stops being D&D if you do stuff in a bar that's rather strange.

My idea of a good, fun D&D game would not be ''hanging out in a bar''. So, no.



Plot hooks, sometimes the players do not take plot hooks that would lead to the encounter if they aren't interested in it. Also, asking "How can a Dm not make an encounter properly?" is hilarious.

But your mixing plot hooks and encounters....



If you put them in the all the likely places, maybe (not necessarily, but it could end up being railroading depending on the specifics). But I put them in the region they are in, the region. Not the road they are travelling, not the district of the city. Since who knows where they might go.

So by not putting the encounters right in the path of the PC's, but have them a bit off to the sides, you can say ''no railroad''?



Nope. They just might go a different way to what I first anticipated. For example, instead of going into the villains lair, they burnt the whole thing down including destroying the way people get to and from the lair. This resulted in a different story/plot than was planned, and caused tonnes of planned encounters to never have occurred. They didn't follow a path, they just did what they thought would be effective.

Though this sounds like a case of bad planning. A RPG should be more like ''the railroad says the PC's must go to the villains lair and deal with the villain'', not ''the railroad says the PC's must attack the villain in the library with a candlestick''. A good DM never makes such specific plans.

And it seems to me that he players were following the ''defeat villain X '' path. I'm not sure why you don't see that path?



Players might make encounters themselves as a result of their actions or simply roleplay or keep playing until they come across an encounter. The game doesn't stop just because they went left instead of right, when you had bandits on the right road.

So, again your saying ''have encounter B'' or even ''improve A'', right?



Adventure Paths do have planned encounters. I never suggested there weren't. They just might never occur. There is no rule suggesting that the planned encounters in the book have to occur or that the encounters cannot be modified. Actually, the Adventure Path my group is currently running so far has acknowledged that there are many encounters that might be avoided (my group has avoided a great deal of them so far).

Well, I'm not a fan of published adventures and don't use them. So I don't really know the specifics.




Nope. For one I said the player who made the house or made the thing that made the house would likely do "Most" of the description. Any of the players involved in the situation would be deciding things.

I get the feeling it would take a whole thread for you to explain how the game had no DM, yet someone there called a ''player'' did the ''DMs'' job, but still called themselves a ''player'' for some reason.



There was no DM pre-planning anything because there was no DM, just improvisation between players following the rules.

As D&D (and Pathfinder) are very clear that ''one person is DM'' in the rules, I think it's safe to say you were not playing the game at that point.


Huh? If I, as a player, give my character a motive(say the motive to carve out a utopia) that somehow means the DM did something? The DM is not the only person at the table. Learn to treat those other meatsacks as if they were beings too.

Well, the DM has to make up and control everything about what the character wants to do. That is how D&D works. The player has a character say ''i want to kill a dragon''. The DM makes up a dragon and puts it somewhere...and then railroads or at least ''leads'' the PC there....



Uh huh. So the characters enacting plans you did not place encounters for is "not playing the game". Please give your players some respect.

No, not having encounters is not playing the game.




You heard me. You are constantly describing players as if their only thought is disrespect for you while also describing all their contributions as either random or your latest insanity "player character generation = DM railroading".

I really have no idea what your talking about.

Lorsa
2016-04-03, 02:03 AM
If the DM ''just says something'' this is the worst type of Railroading. When the DM just says: ''It's lunch time so all your characters go to the cafeteria to eat'' that is really bad railroading. The DM should always give the players an illusion of choice.

If you read the sentence again, it can also be read as the DM says "It's 1 pm" and the players say "so we go to lunch in the cafeteria".



In any case, you have, for some reason, decided to ignore posts by ImNotTrevor and others, that explain things in better detail.

Milo v3
2016-04-03, 02:17 AM
So your saying the DM just sets encounter A aside and tries with encounter B, right?
Nope.


My idea of a good, fun D&D game would not be ''hanging out in a bar''. So, no.
The fact that you wouldn't enjoy it is irrelevant to the fact that it was still part of my Pathfinder game, and it was definitely pathfinder not freeform.


But your mixing plot hooks and encounters....
Many encounters have previous events connected to them, if they never take the hook they might never end up at the encounter.


So by not putting the encounters right in the path of the PC's, but have them a bit off to the sides, you can say ''no railroad''?
By not forcing the PC's to do anything, you can say no railroad..... Railroading is not the default. Railroading is something additive. You have to do something to make it railroading, you don't have do something to make it not railroading.


Though this sounds like a case of bad planning. A RPG should be more like ''the railroad says the PC's must go to the villains lair and deal with the villain'', not ''the railroad says the PC's must attack the villain in the library with a candlestick''. A good DM never makes such specific plans.
1. Was going off an adventure path.
2. Going into the base (not specific room of the base, just entering the base) is generally assumed as part of adventure. Basically, it's like instead of going into a dungeon crawl they stand at the entrance and they flood it.
3. The adventure didn't say "The railroad says". And the adventure went fine despite going off the adventure path's expectations.
4. It might have been considered bad planning if the something bad came as a result of that, but since I let PC's do whatever, but it was an enjoyable experience for the players and me so I'm not sure how that's bad planning. And if it still is bad planning, does it really matter if it didn't change that everyone enjoyed the session?


And it seems to me that he players were following the ''defeat villain X '' path. I'm not sure why you don't see that path?
I assumed they would go that path. They didn't, they tried to in a way that wasn't the defeat villian X path, but they didn't. They more delayed the villain.


So, again your saying ''have encounter B'' or even ''improve A'', right?
Nope.


I get the feeling it would take a whole thread for you to explain how the game had no DM, yet someone there called a ''player'' did the ''DMs'' job, but still called themselves a ''player'' for some reason.
The player didn't do the DMs job outside of giving foundation description on the topic he would know most about. It's as much the DM as a player who explains his backstory.


As D&D (and Pathfinder) are very clear that ''one person is DM'' in the rules, I think it's safe to say you were not playing the game at that point.
I never said that game was D&D or Pathfinder.


Well, the DM has to make up and control everything about what the character wants to do.
This is hilarious.

The primary issue seems to be Darth Ultron sees no difference between a road and a railroad to be honest.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-03, 06:18 AM
Darth Ultron seems to be relying on the Playgrounder's Fallacy of believing that we only speak about D&D.

Apocalypse World specifically forbids planning anything prior to the first session. A rule I strictly abide by. So what kinds of things have happened in these unplanned first sessions? Well, lots of things. Let's do my most recent campaign.

First of all, I disclaim a lot of my creative authority over to the players for Session 1. I ask them what kind of apocalypse they want. They decide on something tropical and wet. Melted icecaps, plant overgrowth, irradiated oceans, etc. I say "Cool, I can barf forth some apocalyptica about that."

We do characters. One is a gunlugger, in this case one who sells his skills for jingle.
One is a Driver, but in this case he has a boat instead of a car.
The last is an Angel, the healer class.

So we figure everyone is on the crew of the boat, named The Old Maid. (This is all coming from them, btw)

So I now enter MC mode and start running the game properly (but still disclaiming a lot of my creative authority. Why? Because it's secretly training them all to be GMs in the future! ) I tell them "Alright, you guys are on The Old Maid, you're pulling into port on an island. What's it look like?

They tell me the island is basically a bunch of ships that were purposefully crashed into the side of a cliff until it made a sort of city made of old ship hulls. It was one of the best ideas for a city I've ever heard, and have loved Salvage Island ever since.

I tell them "Alright, cool. So you pull in. Dog Head is there to greet you." <- Picked his name from a list, improvised his appearance. The players asked me questions about him because I've established that question-asking is a big thing for this session. Dog-Head ends up being a gruff but friendly cuban guy with an old table leg as his wooden leg. Specifically one of those "Claw holding an orb" legs.

We meet Gritch, who turns out to be an atrociously old woman who rules Salvage Island with an iron fist. Oh, and she's the Driver's mom.

We meet Bebop, or rather Bee and Bop, a pair of twins who pissed off Gritch.

We even have a firefight that ends with people being blown up and a lot of craziness.

And a kraken even shows up, the spawn of a neverending psychic hurricane that encircles the region. (The storm was also their idea.)

This was an entirely unplanned first session, wherein all I did was based on the answers to questions I asked to my players. By making them give me the answers, they were invested. I told them many times long ago that making their characters' lives complicated and messy made the game more fun. They delivered, and had a blast. We all did.

Everything I did had a logical cause. Now that their world is created and populated, it is in my hands. Threats will arise, problems will get worse, NPCs that I like will die because PCs destroy everything you love and that is EXACTLY why I play. I play to find out what happens. A lot of the time I just don't know. But stuff happens. It always happens. Your players don't WANT to do nothing. They want to be badasses and so they'll seek it out on their own. Give them the tools and the points of conflict, put people in their way, target what they care about, make it personal, tear apart the status quo...

It works. Even if you've never seen it work.

Cluedrew
2016-04-03, 09:06 AM
I'm defining railroading as when the DM forces the players to follow a singe thing, such as a plot/plan/story.That makes a lot of sense actually. Another question, what is the significant different between this definition and the one that I posted and you criticized so heavily. In case you forgot it was:
For me railroading is the act of forcing players (usually by the GM) along a particular story/adventure path.There are a few differences in wording and I added a bit that it doesn't have to be the GM but other than that I don't see the difference.


If the DM ''just says something'' this is the worst type of Railroading. When the DM just says: ''It's lunch time so all your characters go to the cafeteria to eat'' that is really bad railroading. The DM should always give the players an illusion of choice.I agree with the first part of what you said. That if the GM states player actions without input or opportunity for correction that is probably the "purest" form of railroading. At least when you cut off other paths of advancement the players can choose to stay still or bounce of the rails. I on the other hand disagree with the fast part, the game master should provide as much actual choice as they can. This doesn't mean all the choices all the time or choices without consequences, but choice should be there.

Another thing I would like to agree with Darth Ultron on (I could not find a particular point where it was said, but this seemed to be the point of what was being said) is that railroading with in world justification is still railroading. It is, however I would like to add that not all removing of options for in story reasons is railroading. A GM adding something to the world in reaction to a player action to stop it is defiantly railroading, same thing applies if the GM does to stop a possible player action ("The players will not like being arrested, so I will buff the guards so they can't escape."). As we go from there we get to a gray area where you might have to be the GM to know the difference, to things that are definitely are not railroading. If you are playing a regular mortal human, not being able to grow wings is not a railroad.


Darth Ultron seems to be relying on the Playgrounder's Fallacy of believing that we only speak about D&D.And much excitement was had at this end.

OldTrees1
2016-04-03, 10:12 AM
Well, the DM has to make up and control everything about what the character wants to do. That is how D&D works. The player has a character say ''i want to kill a dragon''. The DM makes up a dragon and puts it somewhere...and then railroads or at least ''leads'' the PC there....

No, not having encounters is not playing the game.

I really have no idea what your talking about.
Let's say:
1) Dragons exist in the campaign
2) My character wants to be a dragon slayer
You are asserting that for my character to encounter a Dragon, the DM has to railroad or at least lead the player to a dragon. This assertion presumes your players are idiots that can't initiate anything on their own. Yes there have to be dragons in the setting for the PC to encounter a dragon. But why would the DM need to do any leading? I am not saying the DM could not railroad or lead, I am just asking why you presume the PCs can't investigate and track down a Dragon on their own initiative. (In real life I can track down a grocery store without needing to be lead or railroaded, why would I play my character any differently?) If a PC wants to encounter a dragon badly enough the only way they won't find one is if there are none or the DM prevents the encounter.

And that was for motives that involve going and finding something. What about other motives like joining/creating an organization or creating a base/castle/kingdom?

Yes, the DM can add encounters themselves, but since players will cause encounters in the rare case they don't encounter anything, the DM does not need to force the players to encounter the encounters the DM placed.

So why do you have so unrealistically low and disrespectful opinions of players?

Darth Ultron
2016-04-03, 01:11 PM
If you read the sentence again, it can also be read as the DM says "It's 1 pm" and the players say "so we go to lunch in the cafeteria".


Even if the DM ''says'' it that way, it's still railroading...just softer railroading.


Nope.

Ok, so we start with DM planned encounter A. The DM places it in a spot, but the PC's avoid the spot so the encounter does not happen. And your very clearly saying the DM does not then place planned encounter B in a spot. So what happens in the game?

Or are you playing with words here? So after the jerk players say ''we don't want to do your encounter Dm'', they say ''we want to do encounter K, DM slave make that encounter for us''. Then the DM places Player Jerk Encounter K in a place, and the pcs willing go there. Is this what your talking about?



The fact that you wouldn't enjoy it is irrelevant to the fact that it was still part of my Pathfinder game, and it was definitely pathfinder not freeform.

So what you were doing in evey way was free form role playing, but you say it was not that. Ok.



Many encounters have previous events connected to them, if they never take the hook they might never end up at the encounter.

But again, your mixing a plot hook with and encounter. First of all to have a plot hook, the DM must have a plot. But your whole argument is that the DM does not have a plot. And a plot hook is the entrance way to the railroad.

Once the players take a plot hook, the DM must railroad them along. Like say the PCs randomly talk to a dwarf npc that tells them of lots of treasure in the haunted tower. The Pc's decide to go there and loot the tower. So they come to a split in the road and unknown to them the right way leads to the tower. They choose to go left. So you as the DM, toss out the haunted tower plot hook the players wanted to follow and just have ''random improvised encounters'' or something that is ''not'' free form role playing, but is.



I never said that game was D&D or Pathfinder.

Oh, so you were doing that sort of thing. Being all vague to prove a point and stand on the high horse? Eh, ok, well now I know what kind of person you are...



The primary issue seems to be Darth Ultron sees no difference between a road and a railroad to be honest.

Right. Road/railroad is, as i have always said, if the players ''like'' it or not. So it's just random. Good players will just be quiet and play the game, jerk players will whine and cry railroad.


Darth Ultron seems to be relying on the Playgrounder's Fallacy of believing that we only speak about D&D.

Well, a railroad needs a premade plot, story and plan to be made by a singular GM, so obviously I'm taking about that type of game.

I know there are 1001 games out there will all sorts of wacky rules, non-rules, un-rules, things and stuff. But if you can't ''railroad'' in the game, they why bring it up?


I don't see the difference.

They look the same to me?



the game master should provide as much actual choice as they can. This doesn't mean all the choices all the time or choices without consequences, but choice should be there.

This sounds good, and I agree, but I'd still say that most given choices are false illusions for the players.



Another thing I would like to agree with Darth Ultron on (I could not find a particular point where it was said, but this seemed to be the point of what was being said) is that railroading with in world justification is still railroading.

Agreed.



It is, however I would like to add that not all removing of options for in story reasons is railroading. A GM adding something to the world in reaction to a player action to stop it is defiantly railroading, same thing applies if the GM does to stop a possible player action


So...wait. So a PC gets a new sword of sharpness, walks into town and goes all murderhobo. Your saying it's a railroad for the DM to have the law npcs come out and try and stop him?



You are asserting that for my character to encounter a Dragon, the DM has to railroad or at least lead the player to a dragon. This assertion presumes your players are idiots that can't initiate anything on their own. Yes there have to be dragons in the setting for the PC to encounter a dragon. But why would the DM need to do any leading? I am not saying the DM could not railroad or lead, I am just asking why you presume the PCs can't investigate and track down a Dragon on their own initiative.

Ok, just to be clear and to be sure your not pulling a Milo switch, we are both talking about D&D or a game exactly like D&D and not any of the other games out there.

Ok, so the player wants to slay a dragon. Now, in a normal D&D game the DM is the one, alone, that makes the dragon and everything else in the world around it.

So in your version of D&D, do the players create things and control the whole game world? So there is no DM?

So, again assuming a normal D&D game like I have described, how does the PC get to the dragon? The dragon is at spot X, the PC at spot Y. Does the DM just say ''your at spot X, roll initiative"? Well, in a normal game puts all sorts of things in the game to lead(even railroad) the PC to spot X.

How does your player ''do anything'' on their own? How does your game of D&D work when the DM gets up and leaves the room? The player just sits there and says ''my character finds and kills a dragon''?
And that was for motives that involve going and finding something. What about other motives like joining/creating an organization or creating a base/castle/kingdom?



Yes, the DM can add encounters themselves, but since players will cause encounters in the rare case they don't encounter anything, the DM does not need to force the players to encounter the encounters the DM placed.


Ok, so the players want to slay a dragon. The DM makes a dragon and puts it at spot X. So how do the characters learn about the dragon? So the DM can't lead or force the characters to spot X? So the DM can't do as little as have a NPC say ''I saw a dragon fly to the north'', as that would be leading/forcing the Pc's to spot x and the dragon encounter.

Lorsa
2016-04-03, 02:26 PM
So, again assuming a normal D&D game like I have described, how does the PC get to the dragon? The dragon is at spot X, the PC at spot Y. Does the DM just say ''your at spot X, roll initiative"? Well, in a normal game puts all sorts of things in the game to lead(even railroad) the PC to spot X.

I have already described how this works without railroading in quite detail earlier in this thread.

Either you didn't read my post, or you are deliberately ignoring that fact and demanding that people re-iterate something that has already been explained.

Cluedrew
2016-04-03, 03:22 PM
So...wait. So a PC gets a new sword of sharpness, walks into town and goes all murderhobo. Your saying it's a railroad for the DM to have the law npcs come out and try and stop him?I may have worded that badly. I guess what I am trying to get at is that a large part of what makes something railroading. If the intent is to keep the story progressing along a particular path, than it is railroading. If the intent is to create a realistic and natural world, than it is not railroading. Now intent can be a tricky thing to measure, especially if it is someone else's intent, but that is the best line I can draw right now.


Anyways, there is a lot of interesting stuff in your post, but besides clarifying what I said earlier myself I'm going to focus in on one point.

They [the two definitions] look the same to me?I honestly think that is the most confusing thing you could have said at this point. You see to me you have been saying that they look very different for some time now. In fact thinking back and reading your new post I pieced together "Darth Ultorn's definition of railroading according to Cluedrew", that is my best guess at what your definition would have been if you hadn't told us something else.

Railroading is an action the GM takes to aid the players in progressing the narrative.
Now there are two main differences between this definition and the one you gave. First is that it doesn't have to be a forceful action that attempts to remove choices from the player, by this definition adding a new choice that the player might like is still railroading (another switch in the tracks) despite the fact it goes against most of the connotations of the term.

The second one is that this definition also include different paths through the story. Which gets a little bit muddled because you don't seem to believe improve can happen at a plot effecting level in D&D. I believe it can, although all the great examples I have seen/been apart of have come from other systems so I can't promise that. But if a player requests something, explicitly or implicitly, and the DM grants the request by adding it to the world/story that is pretty far from a typical definition of railroading.

What does this all mean? I do not know the answer to that, but I felt that this should be highlighted anyways.

OldTrees1
2016-04-03, 03:36 PM
Ok, just to be clear and to be sure your not pulling a Milo switch, we are both talking about D&D or a game exactly like D&D and not any of the other games out there.

Ok, so the player wants to slay a dragon. Now, in a normal D&D game the DM is the one, alone, that makes the dragon and everything else in the world around it.

So in your version of D&D, do the players create things and control the whole game world? So there is no DM?
We are still talking D&D where the DM does some initial creation of the world and further creation as needed.


So, again assuming a normal D&D game like I have described, how does the PC get to the dragon? The dragon is at spot X, the PC at spot Y. Does the DM just say ''your at spot X, roll initiative"? Well, in a normal game puts all sorts of things in the game to lead(even railroad) the PC to spot X.
The dragon? Nope nope nope. A dragon. There are many dragons in the DM's world. Many of which the DM does not know they know the locations of.


How does your player ''do anything'' on their own? How does your game of D&D work when the DM gets up and leaves the room? The player just sits there and says ''my character finds and kills a dragon''?

Sidenote: You did notice I said "initiate on their own" rather than "do on their own" right? I can decide to cook a pot of pasta, but I still need a pot, some pasta, some water, and a heat source to do it. Both the initator and the simulator are necessary, but you need to recognize the PCs can drive the story rather than needing to be lead like beasts of burden.

I obviously built my aspiring dragon slayer so that the character is knowledgeable about dragons(Knowledge Arcana). So the first step would be the PC thinking what do I know about where dragons normal make their homes [Roll Knowledge Arcana]. The DM responds by informing me(the player) about the IC knowledge my character would have related to the question. Well now that I know that red dragons tend to like living inside volcanoes, my character goes to the local cartographer and pays for a geological map of nearby volcanoes. It is then a short overland trip(might buy a horse on the way) towards whichever volcano my character wants to explore. Then my character explores the volcano looking for large caves(secondary exits for the red dragon). Being nosy may or may not encourage the dragon to fly out and meet me, otherwise my search would continue until I eliminated this volcano(no red dragon at this one, on to the next one!) or found the dragon's lair.

This is how the players can do things without being lead. The DM is a vital part(since they simulate the world) but the DM does not need to drag/lead/railroad the players towards adventure for adventure to happen.

So shape up and start giving players the respect they deserve rather than treating them either as unthinking beasts with no capacity for initiative or malicious devils intend on disrespectfully wasting your time.

Milo v3
2016-04-03, 04:09 PM
Ok, so we start with DM planned encounter A. The DM places it in a spot, but the PC's avoid the spot so the encounter does not happen. And your very clearly saying the DM does not then place planned encounter B in a spot. So what happens in the game?
Players continue traveling or doing what they were going to do.


Or are you playing with words here? So after the jerk players say ''we don't want to do your encounter Dm'', they say ''we want to do encounter K, DM slave make that encounter for us''. Then the DM places Player Jerk Encounter K in a place, and the pcs willing go there. Is this what your talking about?
What are you on about? :smallconfused:


So what you were doing in evey way was free form role playing, but you say it was not that. Ok.
Could you please explain how playing pathfinder and using all the relevant rules of pathfinder = freeform? Because.... that made no sense.


But again, your mixing a plot hook with and encounter. First of all to have a plot hook, the DM must have a plot. But your whole argument is that the DM does not have a plot. And a plot hook is the entrance way to the railroad.
I didn't argue there was no plot.


Once the players take a plot hook, the DM must railroad them along.
Wrong.


Like say the PCs randomly talk to a dwarf npc that tells them of lots of treasure in the haunted tower. The Pc's decide to go there and loot the tower. So they come to a split in the road and unknown to them the right way leads to the tower. They choose to go left. So you as the DM, toss out the haunted tower plot hook the players wanted to follow and just have ''random improvised encounters'' or something that is ''not'' free form role playing, but is.
Improvised encounters =! random.
You still haven't said how play utilizing the ruleset equals freeform. You do realize there are rules outside combat correct? (and in the bar example I did say even the combat rules were used....)


Oh, so you were doing that sort of thing. Being all vague to prove a point and stand on the high horse? Eh, ok, well now I know what kind of person you are...
It was in the game where I said there was no GM (this was not hidden), and since D&D and PF are not games with no GM, it's rather obvious that I wasn't talking about D&D or PF.


Right. Road/railroad is, as i have always said, if the players ''like'' it or not. So it's just random. Good players will just be quiet and play the game, jerk players will whine and cry railroad.
What? Where does liking or jerk behaviour fit into what I said at all?

JoeJ
2016-04-03, 04:35 PM
If I can refer back the original topic of this thread for a moment.

The adventure Lights Camera Kobra for the old DC Heroes RPG is structured kind of like a web, with each location having clues that lead to several other locations. They encounter locations don't have to be visited in any particular order; in fact, they don't all have to be visited at all. There's a nice chart showing travel time between any two locations, and a timeline of what the villain will be doing at various times if the PCs haven't done something to interfere. The encounters the PCs have, and their order, is determined by which clues they investigate.

I think this module is a good example of how to structure an adventure in a way that allows the GM to prepare while still retaining maximum player agency.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-03, 04:46 PM
I know there are 1001 games out there will all sorts of wacky rules, non-rules, un-rules, things and stuff. But if you can't ''railroad'' in the game, they why bring it up?


And this is where you begin to make mistakes. Or rather, continue to blunder along.

Apocalypse World isn't a game with "wacky" rules or "non-rules." The Apocalypse World rulebook is 200 pages long, and maybe 10 pages of it don't have actual information. (Usually the chapter intro pages, which are just art.)

So that leaves us about 190 pages of rule information. Yup. That sounds like no rules (he said sarcastically)

The thing is, you CAN railroad in Apocalypse World. The problem is that it is expressly against the rules for the MC to do so.

The reason to bring it up is that Apocalypse World, on its own, disproves most of what you're claiming as Truth. Systems can (and really ought to) provide tools for improvisation to help alleviate how much a GM needs to prep beforehand. It is easier to not railroad when you can simply prepare an encounter within 2 seconds.

My players in Apocalypse World will eventually run into trouble with Gritch. (They blew up one of her men, after all.) They can delay this encounter or overcome it, sure. Maybe even get to Gritch before her hitmen can find them. But hitmen ARE going out, because you don't just kill one of Gritch's men and walk away scott-free. How do I know this? Because they told me Gritch was an evil, vengful SOB who gets what she wants or people start dying.

Do you want to know why this is genius?

Because when the problems with Gritch start, NOBODY can complain that its unreasonable. They MADE Gritch. Everything Gritch does is me fulfilling the creative vision they gave me. Everything Gritch does is their fault. And they're already bought in.

So I can have the world react in exactly the way they would expect, including having the fecal matter collide with the metaphorical fan.

OldTrees1
2016-04-03, 04:47 PM
If I can refer back the original topic of this thread for a moment.

The adventure Lights Camera Kobra for the old DC Heroes RPG is structured kind of like a web, with each location having clues that lead to several other locations. They encounter locations don't have to be visited in any particular order; in fact, they don't all have to be visited at all. There's a nice chart showing travel time between any two locations, and a timeline of what the villain will be doing at various times if the PCs haven't done something to interfere. The encounters the PCs have, and their order, is determined by which clues they investigate.

I think this module is a good example of how to structure an adventure in a way that allows the GM to prepare while still retaining maximum player agency.

Quite so. That is a good example of mode based design. By allowing for and even expecting the players traveling to any location or not visiting any particular location, you can cover a lot more of player choice before needing to improvise.

BayardSPSR
2016-04-03, 07:35 PM
In fact thinking back and reading your new post I pieced together "Darth Ultorn's definition of railroading according to Cluedrew", that is my best guess at what your definition would have been if you hadn't told us something else.

Railroading is an action the GM takes to aid the players in progressing the narrative.

I would read Darth Ultron's definition of railroading as "any GM action," rather than a specific kind of GM action in a specific context, as the rest of us are understanding it. This would mean that railroading is necessary and inherent to any RPG with a GM equivalent, but also make the term useless for exploring how to run games well.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-03, 08:19 PM
I would read Darth Ultron's definition of railroading as "any GM action," rather than a specific kind of GM action in a specific context, as the rest of us are understanding it. This would mean that railroading is necessary and inherent to any RPG with a GM equivalent, but also make the term useless for exploring how to run games well.

Exactly. It applies such a blanket over everything that it leaves no room for different GMing styles, and automatically assumes that varying levels of Narrative Authority are impossible.

If everything a GM does is equal, then one GM who does X, Y, and Z is no different from one who does X and Y, but not Z, nor are either different from a GM who only does Z. Even if all 3 are playing the same system.

Essentially, we can use similar logic to assert that a papercut and a decapitation are the same thing because both are cuts. Except that one would, instead of using the word "cut" use "decapitation" for both.

Such as:
"Well, the only thing that makes it a decapitation or not is whether or not the jerk patient dies. It doesn't matter if you slightly decapitate their fingertip, they can still die and suddenly you're accused of decapitating."

"All I see if people decapitating patients and just pretending like just because they didn't remove the entire head, they didn't decapitate anyone."

Which sounds ridiculously asenine. And yet it is essentially identical logic. It falsely dismisses all nuance of form for the replacement of an overly simplified binary that does not accurately model anything.

So, yeah. This is why I keep telling people not tk engage with it. It's either an elaborate troll or a core logical failing. Either way, not worth arguing with unless you like being mad.

Lorsa
2016-04-04, 02:57 AM
There also seems to be a problem with Darth Ultron's free-form roleplaying definition. It looks like his definition is "whenever you are not using the rules" or "whenever you are not currently engaging with the rules". Basically whenever you have a social interaction or whatever and is not rolling dice for 1 minute, it's free-form roleplaying.

This again isn't what everyone else means. Free-form roleplaying means you're not having any rules at all, not simply that you're not using them at this instant.

So in DU's mind it works like this:

Player: "I walk up to the city guard and say 'Greetings dear guard, we are four weary travelers with no goods we're trying to sell, so we don't think we need to pay a toll.'".
DM: "The guard looks over your group carefully for a couple of seconds, see that you don't have any wagons or the like and responds 'Very well, it's getting late anyway, just move along.'".

Darth Ultron: "What sort of stupid free-form roleplaying is this? You have to roll [Diplomacy] (or [Bluff] depending on)! We're playing D&D here!"

or maybe like this:

Players: "We travel east towards the Village of SomethingOrOther."
DM: "After three days of uneventful journey, you arrive at the village."

Darth Ultron: "What sort of stupid free-form roleplaying is this? You have to look at the rules for Overland travel! Define exact distance, calculate speed of travel and roll [Constitution] if you are forced to press on! This is supposed to be D&D!"

and also like this:

Player A: "When we sit down to eat dinner at the Inn my character turns to Player B's character and says 'Aahh, it's so nice to finally rest my feet after three days of walking. Not to mention we didn't have any beer with us! This one is high quality if I say so myself.' after which I empty my second tankard."
DM: <says nothing>
Player B: <looks at Player A with a smirk> " 'I suppose I will order a little myself then, but maybe you should be careful with the drinking, remember what happened at The Lustrous Mermaid? I am NOT cleaning up after you again, and you haven't even had dinner yet!' "
DM: <says nothing>
Player A: <Player A starts talking with a slur> " 'Naaaah, ish fine, I can hanshle my liqour! Oi barmaid! Gimme another rounsh of thish fine beeer' "
DM: <says nothing>

Darth Ultron: "What sort of stupid free-form roleplaying is this? Clearly you need to foll [Fortitude save] to determine level of intoxication based on the beer's toxicity! Also, you can't just assume the barmaid will listen to you like that! Roll [Diplomacy] to see if you attract her attention! We're playing D&D guys!"

Did I get that right?

Milo v3
2016-04-04, 03:02 AM
There also seems to be a problem with Darth Ultron's free-form roleplaying definition. It looks like his definition is "whenever you are not using the rules" or "whenever you are not currently engaging with the rules". Basically whenever you have a social interaction or whatever and is not rolling dice for 1 minute, it's free-form roleplaying.
Actually that can't be his definition, as he said I was doing freeform roleplaying in a situation that I specifically said was using the rules elements such as skills, saving throws and minor combat mechanics. So even using the rules isn't enough for it to not be considered free-form roleplaying for him.

Cluedrew
2016-04-04, 07:14 AM
Exactly. It applies such a blanket over everything that it leaves no room for different GMing styles, and automatically assumes that varying levels of Narrative Authority are impossible. Actually with that definition (BayardSPSR's version) railroading is would be a synonym for GMing, and therefore leave room for different GMing styles. Including differing levels of narrative authority.

Also I don't think this is a joke or a logical problem. I believe this is either a breakdown in communication or a lack of exposure to games that are not D&D. (Not the Playgrounder's Fallacy, but related.) In Dungeons & Dragons you have to prepare some material ahead of time because you have to stat things. There are strategies to help solve this problem, but it does create a incentive to progress down a particular path, it also means that if you progress into an area that has not been prepared you have a harder time making things happen. Compare this to the X World System (Powered by Apocalypse World) in which preparation is not only discouraged it impossible on a stating level because there is nothing besides PCs to stat. Including games like that changes our definition, but (correct me if I'm wrong Darth Ultron) I don't think D. Ultron has every played an X World game.

Again, this is assuming that this all isn't one terrible misunderstanding. Never blame on evil what you can blame on incompetence. Never blame on incompetence what you can blame on miscommunication.


Did I get that right?The only one who can answer that is Darth Ultron. Personally I don't think that railroading is dependant on the system (although it may be influenced by it) so it doesn't really matter. I may be forgetting something, but I did a lot of free forum role-play and although we didn't have railroading I could see how you could do it even there. I would require a bit more work than before.

Lorsa
2016-04-04, 07:43 AM
Again, this is assuming that this all isn't one terrible misunderstanding. Never blame on evil what you can blame on incompetence. Never blame on incompetence what you can blame on miscommunication.

I think this has gone on for too long, with far too many well-detailed posts providing examples of the differences in GM styles, for it to be misunderstanding.



The only one who can answer that is Darth Ultron. Personally I don't think that railroading is dependant on the system (although it may be influenced by it) so it doesn't really matter. I may be forgetting something, but I did a lot of free forum role-play and although we didn't have railroading I could see how you could do it even there. I would require a bit more work than before.

Yes, obviously you can have railroading in free-form roleplay. You can have it anywhere (or not have it anywhere, including D&D, as it were). My point was that it seemed like DU had a very weird definition of free-form roleplaying, which was contrary to how everyone else understands it.

Segev
2016-04-04, 09:09 AM
I'm getting the following definition for "free form" from what I'm reading in Darth Ultron's posts: "Free-form is where the DM does not use a pre-planned encounter."

It also seems that Darth Ultron's definition of "railroading" is: "Any time the DM has an NPC do anything, or uses an encounter, which was not actually written up and approved in advance by the players."

His definition of "randomly" seems to be: "Any improvisiation at all, and any choice that is not pre-written and accounted for."


This is consistent with his claim that everything that is not "railroading" is "random," and that the only way for a DM to not "railroad" is to be "a slave" to his players (by virtue of the fact that, by his definition, if the NPCs or encounters do anything that was not basically planned out exactly as demanded by the players, it's "railroading").


I invite Darth Ultron to correct me if any of these definitions are wrong, according to him, but it seems to me to be the most consistent way to read what he's saying.

Lorsa
2016-04-04, 09:48 AM
I'm getting the following definition for "free form" from what I'm reading in Darth Ultron's posts: "Free-form is where the DM does not use a pre-planned encounter."

It also seems that Darth Ultron's definition of "railroading" is: "Any time the DM has an NPC do anything, or uses an encounter, which was not actually written up and approved in advance by the players."

His definition of "randomly" seems to be: "Any improvisiation at all, and any choice that is not pre-written and accounted for."


This is consistent with his claim that everything that is not "railroading" is "random," and that the only way for a DM to not "railroad" is to be "a slave" to his players (by virtue of the fact that, by his definition, if the NPCs or encounters do anything that was not basically planned out exactly as demanded by the players, it's "railroading").


I invite Darth Ultron to correct me if any of these definitions are wrong, according to him, but it seems to me to be the most consistent way to read what he's saying.

But according to those definitions, there can be random railroading, which seems to be contrary to the claim that things are either railroading or random.

ChrissP
2016-04-04, 09:49 AM
Thanks a lot to you

Segev
2016-04-04, 10:06 AM
But according to those definitions, there can be random railroading, which seems to be contrary to the claim that things are either railroading or random.

Perhaps. I will attempt to refine my understanding after hearing from Darth Ultron as to where he thinks my framing of his working definitions is wrong.

SirBellias
2016-04-05, 10:20 PM
I only read the last 4 pages or so, so I may be reiterating some things.

First, I think that it is really difficult to find good examples of not railroading outside of watching other DMs because it is assumed in books, movies, and most games that the players/spectators are buying into the rules implicit to the medium (you can't change a book or movie, you should abide by the rules of the games). This means that the social interaction with the movie/book cannot affect the plot, and as such makes it a bad example for use in a game with multiple players that have the ability to alter what the game is about.

The main issue for me is that there are very few activities besides role playing games where each player can want the game to be about something different (DM included) and technically has in game control over what their part of the game is about. Now, the problems with this can be mitigated with good communication, but the point is that fact cannot be learned from just about any other daily activity (in my experience at least).

Another issue that I think adds to the reason it is so prolific is system incentives. In D&D, it is usually assumed that you do some prep work before the game starts. Now, if you spend around half an hour (or more, usually) preparing anything, people sometimes have difficulty justifying that time being wasted if everyone else at the table decides to do something else. So in order to justify the time investment, it makes some sense to try to nudge other players towards what you planned. I don't believe it is stated in detail why that is wrong in most rule books (I could be wrong, didn't check).

A third could be a lack of explanation as to how to improvise based off the Player's actions. It is definitely a skill, but in some systems this skill is much harder to utilize than in others. As ImNotTrevor said, in Apocalypse World the game starts off with the players and MC improvising and building the world throughout the session. After that the world takes on a life of its own based on what the players agreed it was to start, while remaining a mostly reactionary game on the MC's part. This is a bit harder in a game where there's more than five numbers to keep track of per combatant, and the learning curve is steeper.

I think it is possible to write adventure modules without excessive railroading, but there will always be gaps that may or may not have to be filled by the DM in play. Also, I think a clear explanation of what railroading is, when it is a bad thing, and how to minimize it in the DMG will at least give people a decent base to start/disagree with (and give that book a bit more purpose).

Darth Ultron
2016-04-06, 07:28 PM
The dragon? Nope nope nope. A dragon. There are many dragons in the DM's world. Many of which the DM does not know they know the locations of.

I'm I reading this right? The players have ''secret dragons'' in the game world that the DM does not know about? How does that even work?




Sidenote: You did notice I said "initiate on their own" rather than "do on their own" right? I can decide to cook a pot of pasta, but I still need a pot, some pasta, some water, and a heat source to do it. Both the initator and the simulator are necessary, but you need to recognize the PCs can drive the story rather than needing to be lead like beasts of burden.

''Drive'' is just too strong of a word. It's more like ''suggest''.



This is how the players can do things without being lead. The DM is a vital part(since they simulate the world) but the DM does not need to drag/lead/railroad the players towards adventure for adventure to happen.

Your example provides lots of examples of the DM leading the player along a railroad. The knowledge check, the map, the volcano. The DM is leading/railroading the PC to the Dragon Encounter. Now, sure, in this example the players wants to have the encounter, but that does not negate the railroading.

And it is easy for a player to sit back and say the above railroading is fine as it is what they want to do anyway. But it is not always so clear cut, and players don't normally have the omniscient view of things in the game. The player in the given example is just ''looking for a dragon'', and will likely avoid anything else, unless they are forced to do it. Even if the other things might lead to the dragon they want. But remember the player can't see the big picture.

Like say the DM adds a tribe of kobolds that worship the dragon. The player might ignore them or just kill them on the spot, and if they do, they won't learn about the connection to the dragon. So the DM needs to railroad this so the player can get the information and clues.


I would read Darth Ultron's definition of railroading as "any GM action," rather than a specific kind of GM action in a specific context, as the rest of us are understanding it. This would mean that railroading is necessary and inherent to any RPG with a GM equivalent, but also make the term useless for exploring how to run games well.

It's not necessary and inherent to all RPGs. And it's not even necessary and inherent to all stlyes of games, as both the Sandbox type game and the Slave to the Players type games don't use or need it.


but (correct me if I'm wrong Darth Ultron) I don't think D. Ultron has every played an X World game.

Never even heard of it, until it was mentioned in this thread.


I'm getting the following definition for "free form" from what I'm reading in Darth Ultron's posts: "Free-form is where the DM does not use a pre-planned encounter."

Happy to clear things up:

Free From: the is just pure rule-less role play totally devoid of the game, for an extended amount of time with the express purpose of doing just that for that time. So when a PC talks to an NPC for a couple minutes that is not free form. When everyone sits back from the rules and just talks for hours while role playing characters in situations, that is free form.



It also seems that Darth Ultron's definition of "railroading" is: "Any time the DM has an NPC do anything, or uses an encounter, which was not actually written up and approved in advance by the players."

Railroading: Forcing the Pc's along a set path/plot/story-line.



His definition of "randomly" seems to be: "Any improvisation at all, and any choice that is not pre-written and accounted for."

Guess that is close. All improvisation is random by definition.



This is consistent with his claim that everything that is not "railroading" is "random," and that the only way for a DM to not "railroad" is to be "a slave" to his players (by virtue of the fact that, by his definition, if the NPCs or encounters do anything that was not basically planned out exactly as demanded by the players, it's "railroading").

The Dm can either railroad the players along an adventure or randomly have the players tell them what to do to move things along in random ways. Accurate.

BayardSPSR
2016-04-06, 08:57 PM
Railroading: Forcing the Pc's along a set path/plot/story-line.

Great, we all seem to be on roughly the same page then.


All improvisation is random by definition.

Here lies the difference in terms. Would you endorse my mentally substituting the word "improvised" every time you say "random?" I feel like your points would make more sense to me that way.


The Dm can either railroad the players along an adventure or randomly have the players tell them what to do to move things along in random improvised? ways. Accurate.

Except, even with that substitution, the binary doesn't hold up. Using your own definitions, it should still be possible for things to go according to a GM's plan or expectations without any force involved - or for players to travel to a pre-prepared setting, for instance, without a set plot associated with that decision.


Side note: I'm curious what a "Slave to the Players" game is, but it's not important to the points I'm trying to make here.

Milo v3
2016-04-06, 09:17 PM
Happy to clear things up:

Free From: the is just pure rule-less role play totally devoid of the game, for an extended amount of time with the express purpose of doing just that for that time. So when a PC talks to an NPC for a couple minutes that is not free form. When everyone sits back from the rules and just talks for hours while role playing characters in situations, that is free form.
This definitely raises the question of how what I was doing was considered freeform by you.....


So the DM needs to railroad this so the player can get the information and clues.
Not in my experience. Players might end up missing tonnes and tonnes of information and clues, but they eventually either find some information or change their goals.


All improvisation is random by definition.
False. Improvisation = "the action of improvising." or "something that is improvised, in particular a piece of music, drama, etc. created spontaneously or without preparation."

Improvising = "create and perform (music, drama, or verse) spontaneously or without preparation." or "produce or make (something) from whatever is available."

Nothing in the definition of any of those words suggests or implies randomness.


Side note: I'm curious what a "Slave to the Players" game is, but it's not important to the points I'm trying to make here.
Any game without railroading apparently :smallsigh:

OldTrees1
2016-04-06, 09:26 PM
I'm I reading this right? The players have ''secret dragons'' in the game world that the DM does not know about? How does that even work?
No. I said "some of which the DM does not know they(the DM) know about". I presume you are familiar with the concept of known knowns and unknown knowns. There are many dragons in the DM's world as a result of the DM's creation of that world.



Your example provides lots of examples of the DM leading the player along a railroad. The knowledge check, the map, the volcano. The DM is leading/railroading the PC to the Dragon Encounter. Now, sure, in this example the players wants to have the encounter, but that does not negate the railroading.

And it is easy for a player to sit back and say the above railroading is fine as it is what they want to do anyway. But it is not always so clear cut, and players don't normally have the omniscient view of things in the game. The player in the given example is just ''looking for a dragon'', and will likely avoid anything else, unless they are forced to do it. Even if the other things might lead to the dragon they want. But remember the player can't see the big picture.

Like say the DM adds a tribe of kobolds that worship the dragon. The player might ignore them or just kill them on the spot, and if they do, they won't learn about the connection to the dragon. So the DM needs to railroad this so the player can get the information and clues.
And you lost me. How can the DM be railroading the players to a destination if the DM does not know where the PCs are going to end up or is doing anything to force the PCs to end up somewhere?

Did the DM decide the PCs would hunt a dragon? No. The Players decided their PCs wanted to go find a dragon.
Did the DM ask for the knowledge check? No. The Players asked what their character would know about the topic. (This resulted in the DM using a knowledge check)
Did the DM tell the players to get a map? No. The Players initiated the search for a map.
Did the DM tell the players to go to THE volcano? No. The Players decided their PCs were going to A volcano.
Did the DM railroad anything? No. The Players choose what they would do and the DM simulated the world.

Now with your tribe of kobolds, why does the DM need to railroad anything? Isn't the PCs killing the kobolds and not learning about the dragon a valid outcome if the PCs choose to do so? The DM is not trying to force the PCs to encounter the dragon that the players chose to encounter remember??.

Cluedrew
2016-04-06, 09:47 PM
Never even heard of [Apocalypse World], until it was mentioned in this thread.Really? I would recommend it if only to see how a game that is not like D&D at all can work and be good. Don't try to play it like D&D though, you will miss a lot of what the game has to offer. Disclaimer: I don't actually like Apocalypse World very much to play, but I like some of the theory behind the game and seeing the game in action is the best way to see how that all works.


Railroading: Forcing the Pc's along a set path/plot/story-line.You know, I remember hearing that the word set has one of the longest dictionary definitions in English. That's just an anecdote I can't even confirm. Main point is what makes a path set? I played a game which was lead by events the MC (X World game by the way) through at us, but at the same time I will say it was not a railroad. The main plot was dragged from on of the character's backstories (made up by a player and given to the MC as the game begun) and the resolution of the campaign was determined by some impulsive (you might even say random) decisions by the players. I talked to the MC later and I actually know it was not the plan, as the MC had all this material we never got to because we fought the final battle early.

I don't think the campaign was a railroad, because the plot was hardly set and we were not forced along it. But it was not a random game either, in fact besides the outcomes of various dice rolls I can only think of one "random" decision the whole game, and that was in the end game.

So what I'm saying is that your (Darth Ultron... who seems to be half this conversation by himself) model doesn't match my experiences so it doesn't make sense to me.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-06, 10:22 PM
Here lies the difference in terms. Would you endorse my mentally substituting the word "improvised" every time you say "random?" I feel like your points would make more sense to me that way.

Yes. I think a lot of people are using ''improvisation'' to cover ''making things up on the fly, but with an over all arc/plan/plot/story in mind.'' And the ''but'' is important, as at best the DM is doing the quantum ogre and worst it's back to the railroad. Like the Pc is looking for a killer, but the ''no plan/plot/story'' DM has not ''made anything up about that yet''. So the Pc turns left and the DM says ''you meet Korg the killer you have been looking for'' as if it was some amazing thing out of thin air....when the DM clearly had the ''surprise find and meet the killer plan'' in place.




Except, even with that substitution, the binary doesn't hold up. Using your own definitions, it should still be possible for things to go according to a GM's plan or expectations without any force involved - or for players to travel to a pre-prepared setting, for instance, without a set plot associated with that decision.

Sure, it's possible for things to randomly happen?





Side note: I'm curious what a "Slave to the Players" game is, but it's not important to the points I'm trying to make here.

The idea here is the DM is a blank slate with no will to do anything, other then what the players tell them to do. The players say ''we what x over by y and we want it like z'' and then the DM makes exactly that. The DM never adds anything, ever, to the game without the players permission.


This definitely raises the question of how what I was doing was considered freeform by you.....

Well, we have established that you post misleading and/or uncomplete things, so I'll put this all on you.



Not in my experience. Players might end up missing tonnes and tonnes of information and clues, but they eventually either find some information or change their goals.

A big part of the reason to railroad is so the players don't miss things. A normal game has a set time limit. The game will run from say 6-11, so things need to move along quickly.




And you lost me. How can the DM be railroading the players to a destination if the DM does not know where the PCs are going to end up or is doing anything to force the PCs to end up somewhere?

I see the disconnect.

Your going by the idea that the DM just does stuff at random and/or they are following some odd convoluted ''house rules'' about how the game reality is and should be. Your coming from the idea that the DM is somehow up on a high horse and all impartial: they are just making up stuff that makes sense and are in no way ''in control'' of the game.

I'm saying the DM is always in control and everything they make up is part of that.

Me: Makes an intresting and fun dragon cave encounter that I know my players will like.
You: Does not make an encounter but impartially improvises things happening in the game based on whatever you want to say your basing them on at the moment, mostly just reacting to the players.




Did the DM decide the PCs would hunt a dragon? No. The Players decided their PCs wanted to go find a dragon.
Did the DM ask for the knowledge check? No. The Players asked what their character would know about the topic. (This resulted in the DM using a knowledge check)
Did the DM tell the players to get a map? No. The Players initiated the search for a map.
Did the DM tell the players to go to THE volcano? No. The Players decided their PCs were going to A volcano.
Did the DM railroad anything? No. The Players choose what they would do and the DM simulated the world.

As soon as the DM says something specific that starts the railroad. Were do red dragons live:Volcano, where is a volcano:here is a map. Again just as the players choose to follow the DMs railroad does not negate it.

The railroad is the whole arc of ''The players want to slay a dragon''



Now with your tribe of kobolds, why does the DM need to railroad anything? Isn't the PCs killing the kobolds and not learning about the dragon a valid outcome if the PCs choose to do so? The DM is not trying to force the PCs to encounter the dragon that the players chose to encounter remember??.

Correct, it is a valid outcome that the players will not learn anything from the kobold encounter.

And that is exactly why a DM railroads: so that does not happen(or at least has a very small chance of happening).

Time is a good way to explain. The game will end at 11pm. So the encounter with the dragon must happen before 10 pm...or wait until next game. So at 9:45 the players come to a split in the path of the plot(that they don't know about, of course): one to the dragon, one not.

Normal DM: Railroad the players to the Dragon Encounter so it can start at about 10PM. No matter what else the PC's try to do, it will fail.

The other DM: lets the players just do whatever. They may or may not encounter the dragon before 10 pm, but whatever. The game might end with no dragon encounter. Or the Pc might somehow become pirates selling giant space hamsters. Of course if they do have the encounter after 10pm it will be utterly impossible to finish by 11pm. And this can lead to the game, for example, ending on round 3 of the dragon combat. ''Ok, guys we will start the next game on initiative roll 11, everyone remember everything, see you all next time.''

OldTrees1
2016-04-06, 10:45 PM
Correct, it is a valid outcome that the players will not learn anything from the kobold encounter.

And that is exactly why a DM railroads: so that does not happen(or at least has a very small chance of happening).

Time is a good way to explain. The game will end at 11pm. So the encounter with the dragon must happen before 10 pm...or wait until next game. So at 9:45 the players come to a split in the path of the plot(that they don't know about, of course): one to the dragon, one not.

Normal DM: Railroad the players to the Dragon Encounter so it can start at about 10PM. No matter what else the PC's try to do, it will fail.

The other DM: lets the players just do whatever. They may or may not encounter the dragon before 10 pm, but whatever. The game might end with no dragon encounter. Or the Pc might somehow become pirates selling giant space hamsters. Of course if they do have the encounter after 10pm it will be utterly impossible to finish by 11pm. And this can lead to the game, for example, ending on round 3 of the dragon combat. ''Ok, guys we will start the next game on initiative roll 11, everyone remember everything, see you all next time.''

Keep telling yourself your style of DMing is the "Normal DM". You railroad so much that the forum does not believe you actually have a group. You may have a group and you may all have fun, but don't let that make you think most DMs are likewise. Sure not all DMs run sandboxes either. However I was not describing a sandbox, I was describing how (player initiative -> encounters) the players can still have fun even if they miss the encounters the real Normal DM(plot + giving players the freedom to not follow the plot) placed.

Milo v3
2016-04-06, 10:47 PM
Well, we have established that you post misleading and/or uncomplete things, so I'll put this all on you.
1. The time you said I was misleading I started the example with "In a game with no DM".... you taking that specific example to mean D&D was rather strange... I mean when something starts with such a clarification that specifically means it is not a game that uses DM's... that means it's not a game that uses DMs. I do admit it wasn't a 100% complete example, as I felt saying "In x ruleset that you have no idea what it is or like" would be pointless when the only relevant detail to the discussion was that it was a game that lacked DM's. Basically: When someone asks "Who are you?" you shouldn't answer with your life story, but merely your name and other relevant information.

2. This is example, I specifically said "Rules are still happening. The game is still happening. My players once spent about half of a session just in the bar, roleplaying, and doing actions that required skill checks, saving throws, and some minor combat mechanics. Are you suggesting that it wasn't "Playing" the game just because I didn't shove a plot down their throat?" and yet you say things like that it "in evey way was free form role playing, but you say it was not that."


A big part of the reason to railroad is so the players don't miss things. A normal game has a set time limit. The game will run from say 6-11, so things need to move along quickly.
The issue with this statement is bolded. There is no reason for things to be anywhere near that absolute. In some peoples game styles, clues and information can be gained at a very very slow rate and still be enjoyable for the group.

edit:
Normal DM: Railroad the players to the Dragon Encounter so it can start at about 10PM. No matter what else the PC's try to do, it will fail.
I have never seen a DM that railroaded to that extent @[email protected]

BayardSPSR
2016-04-06, 10:57 PM
Yes. I think a lot of people are using ''improvisation'' to cover ''making things up on the fly, but with an over all arc/plan/plot/story in mind.'' And the ''but'' is important, as at best the DM is doing the quantum ogre and worst it's back to the railroad.

I don't think it's necessary to read one thing or another as necessarily "good" or "bad," unless that thing is being applied in a demonstrably inappropriate context.


Sure, it's possible for things to randomly happen be improvised?

Great.


The idea here is the DM is a blank slate with no will to do anything, other then what the players tell them to do. The players say ''we what x over by y and we want it like z'' and then the DM makes exactly that. The DM never adds anything, ever, to the game without the players permission.

I'm not sure where this idea is coming from. If anything, it sounds very similar to the following:

Me: Makes an interesting and fun dragon cave encounter that I know my players will like.




You're going by the idea that the DM just does stuff at random improvises and/or they are following some odd convoluted ''house rules'' about how the game reality is and should be. Your coming from the idea that the DM is somehow up on a high horse and all impartial: they are just making up stuff that makes sense and are in no way ''in control'' of the game.

I'm saying the DM is always in control and everything they make up is part of that.

Me: Makes an interesting and fun dragon cave encounter that I know my players will like.
You: Does not make an encounter but impartially improvises things happening in the game based on whatever you want to say your basing them on at the moment, mostly just reacting to the players.

Firstly, I will point out (as others have said) that some RPGs do in fact specifically demand improvisation in their rules, so "house rules" aren't necessary, let alone necessarily "odd" or "convoluted." And once again, I don't think people are seeing improvisation as impartial or better than planning (except contextually); the opposition people have voiced towards "railroading" is rooted in understanding "railroading" to mean "bad, inappropriate planning." It's my position that it's possible to plan without railroading, and even possible to railroad well in appropriate contexts.


As soon as the DM says something specific that starts the railroad. Where do red dragons live:Volcano, where is a volcano:here is a map. Again just as the players choose to follow the DMs railroad does not negate it.

Wait, isn't this specifically contradicting your definition of railroading as "forcing" players to follow a set plot, path, or narrative?

Railroading: Forcing the Pc's along a set path/plot/story-line.




Normal DM: Railroad the players to the Dragon Encounter so it can start at about 10PM. No matter what else the PC's try to do, it will fail.

The other DM: lets the players just do whatever.

This is a false choice; it's possible to allow some things the PCs do to succeed without allowing all of the things they do to succeed. Also, I would hesitate to assume that my own behavior is a norm in the presence of evidence to the contrary.


They may or may not encounter the dragon before 10 pm, but whatever. The game might end with no dragon encounter. Or the Pc might somehow become pirates selling giant space hamsters.

One of these things is not like the others, and actually demonstrates what other people understand the difference between the words "random" and "improvised" to mean. I'm struggling to figure out exactly why you seem to be deliberately equating the two.

At the end of the day, I don't disagree with what you seem to mean so much as I'm frustrated by your haphazard use of words (especially those with positive or negative connotations), your lack of inhibitions in universalizing your own experiences, and your apparent inability to see in anything other than black and white. Your difficulty remembering counterexamples is understandable given the length of the thread.

Knaight
2016-04-06, 11:52 PM
I have never seen a DM that railroaded to that extent @[email protected]

That level of time based control kind of makes sense for a specific style of convention one shot, and that's about it.

Lorsa
2016-04-07, 07:07 AM
Since Darth Ultron has decided to ignore far too many posts here, I can only conclude one thing:

I think Darth Ultron is railroading, in the way we understand it. However, for some reason I don't understand, rather than try to change, he desperately wants to believe that he is equal to all other DMs. Therefore, he has a need for equating "railroading" with "what every normal DM does".

I guess as long as you believe that "everyone who ever drinks alcohol is an alcoholic", you can safely indulge in your addiction and drink yourself to death.

SirBellias
2016-04-07, 07:25 AM
Yes. I think a lot of people are using ''improvisation'' to cover ''making things up on the fly, but with an over all arc/plan/plot/story in mind.'' And the ''but'' is important, as at best the DM is doing the quantum ogre and worst it's back to the railroad. Like the Pc is looking for a killer, but the ''no plan/plot/story'' DM has not ''made anything up about that yet''. So the Pc turns left and the DM says ''you meet Korg the killer you have been looking for'' as if it was some amazing thing out of thin air....when the DM clearly had the ''surprise find and meet the killer plan'' in place.
That's what I assumed the definition of improvising is. Almost. For me, it is "anything not planned in reaction to the players actions and desires for where the game is going." this isn't necessarily what they want, but it's usually something where they can see that it's on the way to one of their goals. How it aligns with their goals is up to them, and whether they engage in that situation is up to them as well. They typically have fun no matter what they decide to do, so I just wait for them to decide what they want before finding a challenging way for them to get that.


The idea here is the DM is a blank slate with no will to do anything, other then what the players tell them to do. The players say ''we what x over by y and we want it like z'' and then the DM makes exactly that. The DM never adds anything, ever, to the game without the players permission.


That's close to what I do, but I never give them exactly what they want. There's always a complication.


A big part of the reason to railroad is so the players don't miss things. A normal game has a set time limit. The game will run from say 6-11, so things need to move along quickly.

Eh, as long as their having fun, they tend not to care where they end the day, in my experience.


You: Does not make an encounter but impartially improvises things happening in the game based on whatever you want to say your basing them on at the moment, mostly just reacting to the players.

Yup. Not impartially, because that can't happen, and I throw in things that amuse me every once in a while, but this is usually how I roll.


And that is exactly why a DM railroads: so that does not happen(or at least has a very small chance of happening).

Most of my details are relayed to them as they would find them, and most of them aren't normally relevant. If they decide to act on those that are, bravo. I usually tell them more about the details relevant to their goals, and usually the implications are easily seen by two of them, so it works out. You don't have to railroad them into finding the clues if it was something obvious that they would see through the normal actions that their characters would take.



The other DM: lets the players just do whatever. They may or may not encounter the dragon before 10 pm, but whatever. The game might end with no dragon encounter. Or the Pc might somehow become pirates selling giant space hamsters. Of course if they do have the encounter after 10pm it will be utterly impossible to finish by 11pm. And this can lead to the game, for example, ending on round 3 of the dragon combat. ''Ok, guys we will start the next game on initiative roll 11, everyone remember everything, see you all next time.''

Is this not normal? I'm pretty sure this is normal, judging by the reactions of most people on the Playground and my own experience. Players tend to move as fast as they like, it's not my fault if they decide to do something else, but it's probably more interesting for everyone else at the table. So I improvise around it, and it gets interesting fast. Space hamsters is a bit out there, but if they want to be pirates, I don't see an issue.

Segev
2016-04-07, 08:11 AM
I can only add this at this point: It is not railroading to have a DM make a definitive statement, any more than it is for a campaign setting to do the same. Darth Ultron has claimed that "red dragons live in volcanos" is railroading, because the DM has made a statement and is now forcing players to... do something. I assume he also would declare "we are playing in Athas in this Dark Sun campaign" to be railroading, because Athas, as an established setting, has definite things that are true about it.

This definition of "railroading" is so broad as to be useless for communication.

It also does not jive with the definition he gave in response to my request for one. "Any time the DM forces things to follow a plot/plan" is actually fairly accurate to my own definition of "railroading," but there is a huge swath of behaviors which Darth Ultron has declared to be "railroading" which fall well outside this definition.

The DM hasn't "forced" the PCs to do anything when he says, "Red dragons have a tendency to live in volcanos." Now, where actual randomness might enter in, the DM could assign a % chance that a given volcano has a red dragon living in it, rather than deciding, himself, whether a particular one does. Alternatively, he could decide the first volcano they visit will have one. Darth Ultron would call that "railroading," and it's arguable. I disagree, but I can at least see how one might make the case with intellectual honesty.

Or, the DM could look at his world and determine where 5 different volcanos are, and that 2 of them are lairs of red dragons, and then let the players take actions until they do something which would reveal where volcanos lie. The players can do research of various sorts, and the DM can give them the information for which they ask. He is likely improvising some things - the specific details of rumors, whether there exists a village in the area, what a given NPC actually says in a given scene as a means of transmitting information the PCs should obtain thanks to their actions and questions - but none of it is "random." It is guided by his knowledge of what's already there in the world. None of it is "railroaded," either; the DM is not forcing the PCs to find the dragon at the volcano. Dragons exist, and the DM knows where, and improvises details as needs be as the players look into things.

I hope this helps illustrate the difference between "improvisation" and "randomness," at the very least.

OldTrees1
2016-04-07, 09:10 AM
I can only add this at this point: It is not railroading to have a DM make a definitive statement, any more than it is for a campaign setting to do the same. Darth Ultron has claimed that "red dragons live in volcanos" is railroading, because the DM has made a statement and is now forcing players to... do something. I assume he also would declare "we are playing in Athas in this Dark Sun campaign" to be railroading, because Athas, as an established setting, has definite things that are true about it.

Much as I hate it, I need to correct you on this.

Darth Ultron claimed the PCs going to THE volcano was the necessary railroading a DM would have to do to ensure the PCs got lead to the Dragon encounter the DM placed. This was in response to my statement that PCs can still find encounters if they miss all the DM's encounters by following their goals(in this case going to A nearby volcano to look for a dragon to slay). Both of these statements were in the context that the PCs already knew dragons lived in volcanos and had found a map of nearby volcanos(although in the same response Darth Ultron replaced my PC initiated plan with a DM railroaded plan).

In summary: Darth Ultron did not claim stating descriptive statements about tendencies was railroading. He stated the DM providing that information in order to railroad or forcing the players to act upon that information was "necessary" railroading. (still wrong, but a more consistent and comprehendible wrong)

Segev
2016-04-07, 09:16 AM
Much as I hate it, I need to correct you on this.

Darth Ultron claimed the PCs going to THE volcano was the necessary railroading a DM would have to do to ensure the PCs got lead to the Dragon encounter the DM placed. This was in response to my statement that PCs can still find encounters if they miss all the DM's encounters by following their goals(in this case going to A nearby volcano to look for a dragon to slay). Both of these statements were in the context that the PCs already knew dragons lived in volcanos and had found a map of nearby volcanos(although in the same response Darth Ultron replaced my PC initiated plan with a DM railroaded plan).

Ah.

If the PCs choose to go to the volcano, but the DM will run something wherever they go, that's not a railroad. Heck, even dropping heavy hints that they should go to THIS volcano because that's where the prepared dragon encounter is isn't a railroad. A railroad requires that the DM remove all other options, either by forcibly shoving the PCs to the location or by making there be no other location where anything can be done. None of that is present.

Heavy encouragement that doesn't coerce isn't railroading, though it can be just as verisimilitude-breaking.

Railroading has a necessary component of "force." That force takes the form of either literally dragging the PCs to the plot, or of making there be literally nothing to do or nothing that can succeed that isn't on the rails.

OldTrees1
2016-04-07, 09:23 AM
Ah.

If the PCs choose to go to the volcano, but the DM will run something wherever they go, that's not a railroad. Heck, even dropping heavy hints that they should go to THIS volcano because that's where the prepared dragon encounter is isn't a railroad. A railroad requires that the DM remove all other options, either by forcibly shoving the PCs to the location or by making there be no other location where anything can be done. None of that is present.

Heavy encouragement that doesn't coerce isn't railroading, though it can be just as verisimilitude-breaking.

Railroading has a necessary component of "force." That force takes the form of either literally dragging the PCs to the plot, or of making there be literally nothing to do or nothing that can succeed that isn't on the rails.

Correct. However Darth Ultron, out of some twisted sense of duty??, believes they must force the PCs to stick to THE plan in order to stick to THE schedule in order for him to provide THE encounters that are THE entertainment his players are there for. Thus he has a very reasonable definition of railroading, but contextually misinterprets all our non railroading DM examples either in how he would railroad them or as [insert adjective of dismissal] gaming.

JoeJ
2016-04-07, 05:01 PM
Quite so. That is a good example of mode based design. By allowing for and even expecting the players traveling to any location or not visiting any particular location, you can cover a lot more of player choice before needing to improvise.

There's another benefit of node based design, in that unused nodes can show up later, in a "quantum tavern" rather than "quantum ogre" way, and a way I that I don't think fits the description of the thing you don't like. (At least I hope it doesn't.)

For example, suppose the one of the things that can happen in the adventure is the PCs can foil an armored car robbery. They choose a different path, however, and so they miss that encounter. The armored car still gets robbed, but it's offstage.

Two adventures later, they hear about an attempt to kidnap an executive and this time they are present when it occurs. So the GM changes the armored car from the previous, unused encounter into a limousine and uses the same map and the same stats for the attackers.

Mechanically it's the same, but in terms of the story it's a different situation. And if the PCs, for whatever reason, don't make it to the executive rescue either, all the prep is still available for the next "vehicle attacked by thugs on the highway" encounter.

neonchameleon
2016-04-07, 06:09 PM
I'm defining railroading as when the DM forces the players to follow a singe thing, such as a plot/plan/story.




If the players do something that is not random, that would require a plot/plan/story. And as soon as you have that, you have railroading.

This does not follow from your own definition quoted above. A railroad by your DM requires the DM to be the one driving the story. If the players are the ones driving the story within the scene then it is not a railroad.


Ok, take Space Harvard at lunch. The DM makes the ''Space Bully Encounter'' where, per a character's back story the bully attacks them again.

This is not yet railroading. The GM is not requiring the players to follow the plot. The players have the choice of anything from begging the bully to go away to running away to trying to beat up the bully and leave him with his head duct-taped into a toilet facing a floater. I can think of half a dozen more ways of handling this encounter, all of which have significantly different outcomes with different consequences (and those outcomes also depend on the dice). And if I've thought of half a dozen outcomes with different consequences, my players between them could probably come up with a further dozen.

And the key point here is that the GM does not decide which of these outcomes will happen. It's decided by a mix of the players and the dice. As each of the three responses I've indicated (and several I haven't) is part of a significantly different plot, and the PCs determine those responses, it isn't the GM determining the plot. Therefore by your own definition it isn't railroading.

It's not reverse railroading either. The GM set the bully on the PCs. The GM still has plenty of control.

Now, one of the problems with D&D is that combat is almost invariably to the death. This means the PCs can't take a 'soft loss' (like having their wallets stolen in an encounter with bullies or muggers). Running away is ... challenging at best. Group Stealth sucks (someone's going to botch their roll...). Taking bad guys alive is also not what the system was designed for. Most of the in combat tactical choices are choices of characterisation rather than things that can influence the plot (it doesn't matter on a macro level whether the ogre is killed by a sword or a scorching ray).

For a PC in D&D your major options on the table that impact the plot are "Kill" and "Diplomance" (with the latter frequently not being on the table). Therefore on an epic quest the biggest choice the players have about how the plot goes is frequently whether to fight things or avoid them. Drop a Quantum Ogre and even that choice is taken away. The DM drops the encounter on the PCs - and the end of most encounters unless the dice turn horribly is with the PCs alive and the monster dead. Unlike in the Campus Bully Scenario the players did not have many options to influence the plot. Therefore railroading.

A classic sandbox hexcrawl or old school megadungeon (Caverns of Thracia rather than Tomb of Horrors) isn't railroading because the players decide where they go and what they fight (or at least what they risk). Going straight for some things and utterly ignoring others in a world created in advance. Most good Indy Games aren't railroading because most of the scenes resemble the Campus Bully Scene with the players and the dice determining where it ends.

And I don't normally reply to Darth Ultron - but his opening two quotes were so spectacularly contradictory that I thought it was worth pulling them out. He's not even following his own definitions.

OldTrees1
2016-04-07, 06:12 PM
There's another benefit of node based design, in that unused nodes can show up later, in a "quantum tavern" rather than "quantum ogre" way, and a way I that I don't think fits the description of the thing you don't like. (At least I hope it doesn't.)

Mechanically it's the same, but in terms of the story it's a different situation. And if the PCs, for whatever reason, don't make it to the executive rescue either, all the prep is still available for the next "vehicle attacked by thugs on the highway" encounter.

Having prepared a mechanical representation of a situation even once means that if the PCs ever encounter that situation you will have the mechanics to run it already prepared. This example is not the "quantum tavern", at least how you described the example, just as the longsword in the PHB is not a "quantum longsword" just because the same mechanics are used for each longsword.

Using the unused node in the "quantum tavern" method would be to add copies of unused nodes back into the random encounter/tavern generator. I admit the difference is subtle but I learned to be precise in this area.

Unused nodes can return as quantum ogres too but that has been discussed to death.


This is not yet railroading. The GM is not requiring the players to follow the plot. The players have the choice of anything from begging the bully to go away to running away to trying to beat up the bully and leave him with his head duct-taped into a toilet facing a floater. I can think of half a dozen more ways of handling this encounter, all of which have significantly different outcomes with different consequences (and those outcomes also depend on the dice). And if I've thought of half a dozen outcomes with different consequences, my players between them could probably come up with a further dozen.

Most good Indy Games aren't railroading because most of the scenes resemble the Campus Bully Scene with the players and the dice determining where it ends.

Here is where the continuum nature of railroading rears its head. For most good Indy Games, I can label the Point A to Point B to Point C rails at some scale(zoom level). The more I zoom in, the fewer of these games follow the A->B->C definition. Different players have different preference points due to their being no objectively right zoom level to use as a metric.

So while you don't call the Bully encounter railroading because the actions taken and the consequences differ, however another might call it railroading because the encounter was the 2nd in a set of 3 forced scenes. Neither is wrong (I think we have even heard descriptions of 4 dramatically different yet healthy points on the continuum).

Cluedrew
2016-04-07, 09:29 PM
Odd thought, Darth Ultron's definition of railroading makes much more sense if you view it through the lens of computer role-playing games. In a computer game everything is either pre-planned or randomly generated. Nothing can be improvised (unless you have some unreasonably powerful AI working in the background) only brought forth according to the rules that were laid out ahead of time.

The player has a quest, some times they get to choose it other times it is just given to them gift wrapped in the opening cut scene. This quest has a number of points to it. Gates that must be passed through to continue which collectively make up the railroad. There are also side-quests which are also made of their own sets of gates. Which means they, even if though the player does them of their own accord, can be seen as railroads as well. Things that must happen, must simply happen because the computer can't re-write the story if something else happens.

I don't usually count that as railroad, because that is what you sign up for when you play a computer game. Not so much in a table-top game. It does come up though when you reach the edges of a sandbox game, such as the Elder Scrolls games, and don't have quite the same choice as the one you want.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-07, 11:25 PM
I can only add this at this point: It is not railroading to have a DM make a definitive statement, any more than it is for a campaign setting to do the same. Darth Ultron has claimed that "red dragons live in volcanos" is railroading, because the DM has made a statement and is now forcing players to... do something. I assume he also would declare "we are playing in Athas in this Dark Sun campaign" to be railroading, because Athas, as an established setting, has definite things that are true about it.

Remember it's only railroading if the DM has a plot/plan/story for the Pc's to follow. It's not that the DM just says "red dragons live in volcanos", it's that the Pc's are looking for a dragon to slay( plot/plan/story) when the DM says that.




The DM hasn't "forced" the PCs to do anything when he says, "Red dragons have a tendency to live in volcanos." Now, where actual randomness might enter in, the DM could assign a % chance that a given volcano has a red dragon living in it, rather than deciding, himself, whether a particular one does. Alternatively, he could decide the first volcano they visit will have one. Darth Ultron would call that "railroading," and it's arguable. I disagree, but I can at least see how one might make the case with intellectual honesty.

It's almost impossible for a DM to be blank. Anything they say or don't say will lead/force the PC's along a path. If the Dm puts a pile of treasure down the left road, it's not so ''amazing'' when the Pc's head that way. The same way if the DM puts a pile of mud down the right road, it's not so ''amazing'' when the Pc's don't go that way. Sure, you might occasionally get crazy players, but the other 99% of the time they will go the obvious way when one is given.




I hope this helps illustrate the difference between "improvisation" and "randomness," at the very least.

I'd say again that improvisation is random. And it has nothing to do with making a ''common sense things up based on the world notes'' or whatever. Assuming your playing an RPG with a sense of ''normal reality'' then the bandits would be from a race found in the local area, and not be ''intelligent washing machines from the 44th century hungry for blood'' as the DM is just making up super random random stuff based off nothing at all but more randomness.

The difference is the DM having a plot/plan/story and just randomly improvising things. When the DM makes up things in advance, they can take the time to set lots of things out. When you do it at random with improvisation, you simply don't have time to do that.


A railroad requires that the DM remove all other options, either by forcibly shoving the PCs to the location or by making there be no other location where anything can be done. None of that is present.

This is the extreme jerk DM railroading though. When the DM says, ''oh there is nothing else in the world anywhere...so you guys go to the volcano''.



Heavy encouragement that doesn't coerce isn't railroading, though it can be just as verisimilitude-breaking.

And this is back to ''railroading is whatever the players don't like'', as everyone will define ''heavy encouragement'' and ''coercing''.



Railroading has a necessary component of "force." That force takes the form of either literally dragging the PCs to the plot, or of making there be literally nothing to do or nothing that can succeed that isn't on the rails.

So, your definition of Railroading is only the jerk DM. Anything else that might be seen as anything even remotely like the DM doing anything even vaguely linear, is not railroading...unless the DM is a jerk.


This does not follow from your own definition quoted above. A railroad by your DM requires the DM to be the one driving the story. If the players are the ones driving the story within the scene then it is not a railroad.

No? I never said the plot/plan/story must be the DMs. The DM is free to use one the players suggest.

Again, the DM forcing the players down one narrow path is the Jerk DM Railroad. This is where the DM stands up and just says ''in this game, your characters will invade the Abyss...lets start the game as all your characters set through the portal...roll initiative! there is an army of demons to fight! Woo hoo!"




And the key point here is that the GM does not decide which of these outcomes will happen. It's decided by a mix of the players and the dice.

Except the DM is in total control of everything in the game world other then the PCs, and the DM can ''stack'' things any way they want them to be. If the DM wants something to happen, it does. And even if the something has a ''random dice roll'' the DM can still put amazing influence on that roll to come out in whatever way the DM wants...like 99% of the time.

And also keep in mind plot/plans/stories are bigger then just one encounter too.

neonchameleon
2016-04-08, 06:01 AM
No? I never said the plot/plan/story must be the DMs. The DM is free to use one the players suggest.

So your current position is that the DM can railroad people on a story when the DM doesn't know where it is going? And the ending could be almost anywhwer?

Right.


Except the DM is in total control of everything in the game world other then the PCs, and the DM can ''stack'' things any way they want them to be. If the DM wants something to happen, it does.

1: No. The DM is in control of most things in the game world. The DM is not in control of the actions of the PCs.
2: A good DM tries to avoid doing this. Just as they don't put the PCs in straightjackets, have their spellcasters dominate them, and take all the actions for them.


And even if the something has a ''random dice roll'' the DM can still put amazing influence on that roll to come out in whatever way the DM wants...like 99% of the time.

Indeed. The DM can load the options, fudge the rolls, or flat out dominate the PCs. These are all bad things to do.

Why do you seem to think that just because a DM can do something that means that they should do it?


And also keep in mind plot/plans/stories are bigger then just one encounter too.

But can be derailed by one encounter. And each encounter has an impact on the rest of the world.

Cluedrew
2016-04-08, 06:53 AM
So, your definition of Railroading is only the jerk DM. Anything else that might be seen as anything even remotely like the DM doing anything even vaguely linear, is not railroading...unless the DM is a jerk.That is an oversimplification (it can be brought on by other things, such as simple inexperience) but... yes. Railroading is, by most people, considered a bad thing for this very reason. You can have a linear adventure with player buy in and that is not a railroad. If there is no player buy in and they try to leave the plot, still not a railroad. It is only when the GM tries to force the players back on the plot (they add rails) that it becomes a railroad.

And that, in the majority of cases, is bad. Because that is a bad way to run the game. It represents a lack of player control, a clash of play styles and generally a lack of respect within the group.

When I wrote down my definition I used the word force. And when I said force I didn't mean suggest and I didn't mean influence. I meant "I will do anything within my power to cause you to take this action". This seems to be the real difference between the definitions we gave a ways back. And what I meant when I said force, doesn't usually belong at a game table but most often shows up in the hands of a bad GM.

Segev
2016-04-08, 09:18 AM
Railroading, as I said, has a necessary component of force. Coercion is that force. It is objectively defined, not subjectively divined. Of course it's no surprise if players go down the right path because they learned there's a huge pile of treasure down it. Nor is it a shock if, after they expressed a desire to fight a red dragon, they go to a volcano within which rumors indicate such a beast dwells. These things are not railroads.

If the players, upon learning of the treasure, decide that they still prefer hanging out in town, and maybe pursuing their personal goals of recruiting followers for their religion, they are clearly not on rails if the DM doesn't shut down any efforts to do so that don't lead to the treasure.

The DM hopefully has the town they're in defined with enough interesting NPCs and elements to let them interact, or at least knows it well enough to improvise things. This, for the record, is not random, either. It is no more random than if the PCs decide to cast cone of cold rather than Otiluke's freezing sphere when facing the red dragon. Decisions are made about the setting and actions taken within it, based on what the player involved (DM or not) thinks makes sense.


"Railroading" requires that the DM not allow PC choice to change outcomes. PC choices don't matter on the rails; the rails go where the rails go, no matter what. The only "choice" PCs get is how fast to travel down them. And again, there's a sliding scale of railroading; it's possible to have a linear presentation of open-choice events. The events will be hit in order, and that puts them on rails. But choices at them are meaningful, which means it's not railroading through the events themselves.

This can be perfectly acceptable. The more buy-in to the "rails," the more rails help because the party WANTS to go where they're leading. The more the party just wants to find "the plot," the more helpful rails are because they keep the party from failing in uninteresting ways. (An uninteresting failure might include Sherlock Holmes never even realizing that there is a mystery to be solved, because he didn't decipher the message hidden in the letter pleading for his help.)

Darth Ultron
2016-04-09, 08:05 PM
So your current position is that the DM can railroad people on a story when the DM doesn't know where it is going? And the ending could be almost anywhwer?



Yes. The DM is railroading the Pc's along the plot/plan/story.



1: No. The DM is in control of most things in the game world. The DM is not in control of the actions of the PCs.
2: A good DM tries to avoid doing this. Just as they don't put the PCs in straightjackets, have their spellcasters dominate them, and take all the actions for them.


1.Yea, yea, the DM only controls 99.9% of the world....
2.Sure they ''try''...



Indeed. The DM can load the options, fudge the rolls, or flat out dominate the PCs. These are all bad things to do.

Agreed.



Why do you seem to think that just because a DM can do something that means that they should do it?

I'm just saying they can.




But can be derailed by one encounter. And each encounter has an impact on the rest of the world.

No? This would only happen to a very bad DM.

See, I'm coming from the idea that the PC can cause ripples in the river....and that is it. Your idea is the PC can cause the whole planet to fall into the sun!


That is an oversimplification (it can be brought on by other things, such as simple inexperience) but... yes. Railroading is, by most people, considered a bad thing for this very reason. You can have a linear adventure with player buy in and that is not a railroad. If there is no player buy in and they try to leave the plot, still not a railroad. It is only when the GM tries to force the players back on the plot (they add rails) that it becomes a railroad.

My point is that railroading is not a bad thing.

And sure if you have willing players, and a very easy and simple obvious plot/story to follow then it's not overly much a railroad. Though if your in a game with even a small bit of anything complicated then it is not so easy. And this is one of the key reasons why railroading exists: the DM knows things the players don't know about the game.




The DM hopefully has the town they're in defined with enough interesting NPCs and elements to let them interact, or at least knows it well enough to improvise things. Decisions are made about the setting and actions taken within it, based on what the player involved (DM or not) thinks makes sense.


If there is no plan/plot/story to follow, then that is random...and leads down to the Sandbox. Sure the PC's can wander around town and do stuff...at random. Though as soon as the Pc's set on something, then the railroad starts.



"Railroading" requires that the DM not allow PC choice to change outcomes. PC choices don't matter on the rails; the rails go where the rails go, no matter what. The only "choice" PCs get is how fast to travel down them. And again, there's a sliding scale of railroading; it's possible to have a linear presentation of open-choice events. The events will be hit in order, and that puts them on rails. But choices at them are meaningful, which means it's not railroading through the events themselves.

I think there is way, way too much emphasis put on the idea that the PC's can change the world. I guess it's just a sign of the times?

Cluedrew
2016-04-09, 08:43 PM
My point is that railroading is not a bad thing.

And sure if you have willing players, and a very easy and simple obvious plot/story to follow then it's not overly much a railroad. Though if your in a game with even a small bit of anything complicated then it is not so easy. And this is one of the key reasons why railroading exists: the DM knows things the players don't know about the game.My point is that railroading is a bad thing.

It comes down to that word "force". By definition (mine and yours) you are getting someone to do something they do not want to do. I know the "people don't know what they want argument". People who use it are not nessasarly wrong, but in this case they usually are.

I want to say more but I get to the point where I can't really go any further down the chain. So I will try to explain by example Why should the GM know what the players want more than the players themselves? If (to use your example) the party kills the kobolds, maybe they were not interested in talking to them for clues anyways? (I'd be and avoid killing them for that and other reasons.)

Also, although this argument only applies within the context of this thread, I have one more argument as to why railroading is bad.

This thread is not about arguing whether or not railroading is a problem, it is stated as a premise.Given that railroading is bad, therefore railroading is bad.

And since a lot of other people use that same premise, if you are going to try to turn railroading into something else... you might want to accept everyone is going to assume you mean this bad thing when you first bring it up.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-10, 05:00 PM
My point is that railroading is a bad thing.
I want to say more but I get to the point where I can't really go any further down the chain. So I will try to explain by example Why should the GM know what the players want more than the players themselves? If (to use your example) the party kills the kobolds, maybe they were not interested in talking to them for clues anyways? (I'd be and avoid killing them for that and other reasons.)


A good GM should know what their players want, and it needs to be both what the players say they want and what they really want. And first off, a good half of all players(but no one who reads this post, wink, wink) don't even know what they want other then ''to have fun''. Sure, some players have 10,000 word manifestos full of wants and demands of the only way they can have fun, but that is not every player.

Lets take the dragonslayer story. So first off we are talking a D&D type game and one where the players don't want to do anything specific other then ''play'' and ''have fun''. So the DM makes the Doom of Red Scale adventure, and takes several hours making people, places, things and encounters. The plot hook is simple enough as they are hired by an agent of the local baron to get rid of a red dragon that has been making trouble on the edge of the kingdom. So the PC's head off to the Barony of Edgetree. This covers the introduction.

So the PC's get to the barony, and the DM has laid out lots of plots and story elements. Some connect directly to the dragon, and some do not. And things need to unfold in order to make logical sense. For example, the DM really wants the PC's to stop in and see the baron as that encounter is full of plot hooks, information and other important things. The DM really wants to avoid the PC just wandering around in the wilderness ''just looking for the dragon''. So the first stop is for the PC's to go to the baron. And the important bit is the PC's get a paper making them agents of the baron, and a helpful magic item. Without it, they are just ''strangers'' and don't get the magic boost. And the PC's are shown off as the dragonslayers for all to see.

Now if the PC's were to avoid the baron, they miss out on getting a ton of information and they would get little or no help from anyone in the whole barony. And if the bad guys don't know who the PC's are, they can''t try and stop them. Without the paper, for example, the game can waste huge amounts of time as noting happens as no folk help or talk to the Pc's. The DM wants to avoid that.

The baron encounter ends with the baron ''insisting'' the PC's stay for the night and dinner...and this sets up the Assassins encounter. And the two encounters are linked, and they don't really work if they are just ''dropped'' in. The assassins are not related to the dragon, but it's a fun encounter for the skill monkey types. And the assassin encounter gives the PC's a chance to save a noble or two, and possibly get a reward.

And, because the assassin encounter is planned in advance, the DM can add clues and hints about it. And as the DM has a dozen more set encounters they can add hints and clues for each one at any time.

After that the PC's are free to follow any plot hook to find the dragon or even come up with their own plot to find the dragon. The DM will still be alert to avoid the ''random looking around'' , ''things that won't work'' and even more so ''very dumb ideas''. And the DM, as always, stays alert for the PC's doing the jerk move of suddenly not wanting to slay the dragon. The DM wants the game to stay focused on the Doom of Red Scale adventure.

There is plenty of freedom, and even more illusion of freedom for the players to feel happy.


So this describes a typical start of an adventure as written. Does it railroad by anyone's definition?

OldTrees1
2016-04-10, 05:59 PM
Lets take the dragonslayer story.
Try not to claim to be reusing an example when your use has nothing noteworthy in common with the example you are claiming to use. :smallannoyed:


So first off we are talking a D&D type game and one where the players don't want to do anything specific other then ''play'' and ''have fun''. So the DM makes the Doom of Red Scale adventure, and takes several hours making people, places, things and encounters. The plot hook is simple enough as they are hired by an agent of the local baron to get rid of a red dragon that has been making trouble on the edge of the kingdom. So the PC's head off to the Barony of Edgetree. This covers the introduction.

-snip-

And the DM, as always, stays alert for the PC's doing the jerk move of suddenly not wanting to slay the dragon. The DM wants the game to stay focused on the Doom of Red Scale adventure.
Railroading is a continuum. Forcing the PCs to stay on the adventure is a degree of railroading, however the introduction communicated the bounds of the game and the players agreed. Thus most here would not object to forcing the PCs to continue after the Dragon if they were willing to join the game with that explicit premise.

I would not join such a restrictive game, but I appreciate the restriction being explicit in the premise.



So first off we are talking a D&D type game and one where the players don't want to do anything specific other then ''play'' and ''have fun''. So the DM makes the Doom of Red Scale adventure, and takes several hours making people, places, things and encounters. The plot hook is simple enough as they are hired by an agent of the local baron to get rid of a red dragon that has been making trouble on the edge of the kingdom. So the PC's head off to the Barony of Edgetree. This covers the introduction.

So the PC's get to the barony, and the DM has laid out lots of plots and story elements. Some connect directly to the dragon, and some do not. And things need to unfold in order to make logical sense. For example, the DM really wants the PC's to stop in and see the baron as that encounter is full of plot hooks, information and other important things. The DM really wants to avoid the PC just wandering around in the wilderness ''just looking for the dragon''. So the first stop is for the PC's to go to the baron. And the important bit is the PC's get a paper making them agents of the baron, and a helpful magic item. Without it, they are just ''strangers'' and don't get the magic boost. And the PC's are shown off as the dragonslayers for all to see.

Now if the PC's were to avoid the baron, they miss out on getting a ton of information and they would get little or no help from anyone in the whole barony. And if the bad guys don't know who the PC's are, they can''t try and stop them. Without the paper, for example, the game can waste huge amounts of time as noting happens as no folk help or talk to the Pc's. The DM wants to avoid that.
You might want to check your word choice / tone. The amount of stress your word choice/tone puts on wanting the PCs to meet the Baron puts doubt into whether the DM would allow the PCs to not meet the Baron.

If No, the DM will force the PCs to meet the Baron:
If the meeting is important enough, then have it be the opening scene rather than a forced (railroaded) event.

If Yes, the DM will not force the encounter:
See word choice comment. Nothing else to comment on here.



The baron encounter ends with the baron ''insisting'' the PC's stay for the night and dinner...and this sets up the Assassins encounter. And the two encounters are linked, and they don't really work if they are just ''dropped'' in. The assassins are not related to the dragon, but it's a fun encounter for the skill monkey types. And the assassin encounter gives the PC's a chance to save a noble or two, and possibly get a reward.

And, because the assassin encounter is planned in advance, the DM can add clues and hints about it. And as the DM has a dozen more set encounters they can add hints and clues for each one at any time.

After that the PC's are free to follow any plot hook to find the dragon or even come up with their own plot to find the dragon. The DM will still be alert to avoid the ''random looking around'' , ''things that won't work'' and even more so ''very dumb ideas''. And the DM, as always, stays alert for the PC's doing the jerk move of suddenly not wanting to slay the dragon. The DM wants the game to stay focused on the Doom of Red Scale adventure.

There is plenty of freedom, and even more illusion of freedom for the players to feel happy.

So this describes a typical start of an adventure as written. Does it railroad by anyone's definition?
Nothing to comment upon in the rest of this. No railroading present that is not discussed above.

neonchameleon
2016-04-10, 08:03 PM
Yes. The DM is railroading the Pc's along the plot/plan/story.



1.Yea, yea, the DM only controls 99.9% of the world....
2.Sure they ''try''...



Agreed.



I'm just saying they can.




No? This would only happen to a very bad DM.

See, I'm coming from the idea that the PC can cause ripples in the river....and that is it. Your idea is the PC can cause the whole planet to fall into the sun!



My point is that railroading is not a bad thing.

And sure if you have willing players, and a very easy and simple obvious plot/story to follow then it's not overly much a railroad. Though if your in a game with even a small bit of anything complicated then it is not so easy. And this is one of the key reasons why railroading exists: the DM knows things the players don't know about the game.



If there is no plan/plot/story to follow, then that is random...and leads down to the Sandbox. Sure the PC's can wander around town and do stuff...at random. Though as soon as the Pc's set on something, then the railroad starts.



I think there is way, way too much emphasis put on the idea that the PC's can change the world. I guess it's just a sign of the times?

The problem is that you have no idea what the story actually is. The story is not and should not be the metaplot. Stories are about people and about choices, and the story is centred on the PCs. In Pride and Prejudice if the PCs are Elizabeth, Jane, and Lydia Bennett, Darcy, Bingley, and Wycombe, it doesn't matter if the GM controls the backdrop, Mrs Bennett, Parson Collins, and even some uninvolved file clerk in India. The story is about the PCs.

Stories are generally about choices and change and people. Stories about the background rather than the central characters changing are rarely as good as even a Michael Bay film. And the thing the players control is the central characters - the people that are the stars of the story, and what they choose and how they change.

Cluedrew
2016-04-10, 08:05 PM
(but no one who reads this post, wink, wink)Well thank you.

I my admittedly not very extensive experience most people actually fall between the two extremes you have given. Most have a rough, informal idea of what they want from the game. Perhaps they can't put it into words, but sometimes you can figure it out with the right questions or just observation.

Now the main point is "is there railroading in the Doom of Read Scale example"? I can't say, because really railroading is not part of the setup, but the actions and re-actions in that setup. In other words railroading is not in "the hook" but in A) do the players take it and B) how does the GM react if they don't.

If the players take the hook because they want to, then it is not railroading because no force was used. It may also be not a set path if the GM set out a bunch of plot hooks.

If the players don't take the hook and the GM simply creates another one, then it is not railroading as the GM has gone with their choice. Possible exception if all the new plot hooks all lead to the same place.

If the players don't take the hook and the GM simply make it harder to go around it, then we have railroading.

Now I haven't covered all the possibilities, such as the players missing the hook by accident, but those I believe are the primary decision points that will turn a linear adventure into a railroad.

BayardSPSR
2016-04-10, 09:03 PM
The problem is that you have no idea what the story actually is. The story is not and should not be the metaplot. Stories are about people and about choices, and the story is centred on the PCs. In Pride and Prejudice if the PCs are Elizabeth, Jane, and Lydia Bennett, Darcy, Bingley, and Wycombe, it doesn't matter if the GM controls the backdrop, Mrs Bennett, Parson Collins, and even some uninvolved file clerk in India. The story is about the PCs.

Stories are generally about choices and change and people. Stories about the background rather than the central characters changing are rarely as good as even a Michael Bay film. And the thing the players control is the central characters - the people that are the stars of the story, and what they choose and how they change.

It's also worth pointing out that for every player, their character is the protagonist.


And first off, a good half of all players(but no one who reads this post, wink, wink) don't even know what they want other then ''to have fun''. Sure, some players have 10,000 word manifestos full of wants and demands of the only way they can have fun, but that is not every player.

This is the only remaining unresolved problem in this thread: the fact that you, and you specifically, have insisted on presenting every possible qualitative difference as an exaggerated binary.

To everyone else: there's no point trying to explore a solution via examples; DU has demonstrated a remarkable to sort literally any game behavior into two boxes labeled "railroading" and "random," even if it's inconsistent with prior statements.

Segev
2016-04-10, 09:21 PM
I think there is way, way too much emphasis put on the idea that the PC's can change the world. I guess it's just a sign of the times?

You are, perhaps, laboring under a misconception of what "change the world" means in this context. It does not mean what it means when somebody says "this invention will change the world." It means that, if the PCs decide to convert a guard to be a loyal friend, this guard's loyal friendship will alter how events in the future involving the guard go, compared to what would happen if they merely intimidated him this one time or they killed him outright.

It can be as small as whether Guardsman Bob invites them to share a drink after work, or sees them and flees to spread warning of the terrifying people he just saw enter town.

Cosi
2016-04-10, 09:53 PM
You are, perhaps, laboring under a misconception of what "change the world" means in this context. It does not mean what it means when somebody says "this invention will change the world." It means that, if the PCs decide to convert a guard to be a loyal friend, this guard's loyal friendship will alter how events in the future involving the guard go, compared to what would happen if they merely intimidated him this one time or they killed him outright.

It should also be possible in the other sense. Not ever story needs to be about saving the world or upending the social order or whatever, but that's totally a thing it should be possible to do. For every hero like Conan or Batman who starts basically all his adventures in the same place, there's someone like Kellhus or Tavi whose actions progress a plot that is global in scope. Part of the appeal of fantasy is getting to do something you can't do in real life, whether that is "cast fireball", "hogtie a bear", or "overthrow a god".

So, yes, Ultron is referring to the wrong thing, but even if he wasn't, he'd still be wrong.

Segev
2016-04-10, 10:14 PM
It should also be possible in the other sense. Not ever story needs to be about saving the world or upending the social order or whatever, but that's totally a thing it should be possible to do. For every hero like Conan or Batman who starts basically all his adventures in the same place, there's someone like Kellhus or Tavi whose actions progress a plot that is global in scope. Part of the appeal of fantasy is getting to do something you can't do in real life, whether that is "cast fireball", "hogtie a bear", or "overthrow a god".

So, yes, Ultron is referring to the wrong thing, but even if he wasn't, he'd still be wrong.

Eh, I don't think it worth arguing whether that kind of world-changing ability of PCs is "overdone" or "overemphasized." That's a matter of taste. And arguing the point distracts from what is actually being said, which serves only to muddy the waters on what is or is not "railroading."

Lorsa
2016-04-11, 09:47 AM
So this describes a typical start of an adventure as written. Does it railroad by anyone's definition?

Since you apparently have a problem with shades of grey I will answer it in simple duality terms: Yes.

The slightly longer answer is that adventures can't railroad, only DMs can. So if the DMs force the players to go to the baron, or stay the night, or anything such, then it is railroading. With a set up like the one you describe, it is very likely to happen, so therefor I answer yes. It doesn't have to happen, but the likelihood is large.

Knaight
2016-04-11, 10:35 AM
It should also be possible in the other sense. Not ever story needs to be about saving the world or upending the social order or whatever, but that's totally a thing it should be possible to do. For every hero like Conan or Batman who starts basically all his adventures in the same place, there's someone like Kellhus or Tavi whose actions progress a plot that is global in scope. Part of the appeal of fantasy is getting to do something you can't do in real life, whether that is "cast fireball", "hogtie a bear", or "overthrow a god".

It depends on what you mean by it should also be possible. If you mean that any individual fantasy game should have the option, then no. If you mean that there should be games that exist which are about that sort of thing, then absolutely. There's room in RPGs for both Grey Ranks (a game about the Warsaw Rebellion in WWII, which is never going to end well for the PCs) and Mythender (A game about trying to retain your humanity while using godlike powers to cut down an entire pantheon).

Cosi
2016-04-11, 11:03 AM
It depends on what you mean by it should also be possible. If you mean that any individual fantasy game should have the option, then no. If you mean that there should be games that exist which are about that sort of thing, then absolutely. There's room in RPGs for both Grey Ranks (a game about the Warsaw Rebellion in WWII, which is never going to end well for the PCs) and Mythender (A game about trying to retain your humanity while using godlike powers to cut down an entire pantheon).

Pretty much. Not every game needs to do everything, but there are very few things no game should do (and most of those are lines about good taste, rather than power level or setting). Just as you can have Science Fiction games where "guy with a sword" isn't a supported archetype and Fantasy games where "cyborg" isn't a supported archetype, you can have games where you play soldiers and games where you play demigods. You can even have games that support both like Shadowrun (where you can be cyborg with a sword) or D&D (where you can go from foot-soldier to demigod).

I personally think that a game where it's impossible for PCs to succeed meaningfully is bad. It doesn't have to be a total victory, but there should be something the players can be proud of. For example, in Grey Ranks, you should probably be able to know that you've saved some people's lives even if you know you'll ultimately be crushed.

kyoryu
2016-04-11, 01:19 PM
My point is that railroading is a bad thing.


It's really not.

It's just a thing. It's a thing that works better if the players are aware that there's a linear plot and they'll be held to it.

The problem is when you are railroading, and trying to convince the players that you're *not* railroading. In other words, lying. Telling people "Hey, I just got the old DragonLance modules, let's run through them - but know that there's pretty much *a* path, and that's how it works" works a lot better than "Oh, you can really do anything you want," but then forcing the players onto a particular path.

Now, I'll be honest, it's not a thing that *I* typically enjoy, but for a lot of people, that's what they like and that's what D&D, and roleplaying in general, *are* to them.

Cosi
2016-04-11, 02:07 PM
It's really not.

It's just a thing. It's a thing that works better if the players are aware that there's a linear plot and they'll be held to it.

The problem is when you are railroading, and trying to convince the players that you're *not* railroading. In other words, lying. Telling people "Hey, I just got the old DragonLance modules, let's run through them - but know that there's pretty much *a* path, and that's how it works" works a lot better than "Oh, you can really do anything you want," but then forcing the players onto a particular path.

Now, I'll be honest, it's not a thing that *I* typically enjoy, but for a lot of people, that's what they like and that's what D&D, and roleplaying in general, *are* to them.

I agree with the sentiment, but I don't think I'd call it railroading if you never try (or never want) to get off the rails.

There's also probably a point to be made about micro and macro railroading, where "you have to kill the evil baron", "you have to poison the evil baron", and "you have to poison the evil baron with Black Lotus Oil while he is sleeping which you do by sneaking into his room by scaling the walls of the castle". Some (perhaps even many) people are okay with the first, less with the second, and I would imagine almost none with the third.

kyoryu
2016-04-11, 02:21 PM
I agree with the sentiment, but I don't think I'd call it railroading if you never try (or never want) to get off the rails.

Not sure I agree. I think that any time you've got a linear structure, you're pretty much railroading. I mean, that's kind of the term, right? Forgeites (bleagh) had adopted the terms "illusionism" and "participationism" to distinguish between the "you don't know it's railroading" and "you're on board the train, choo choo!" varieties, respectively.

I mean, ultimately, there's basically three concepts here - a GM having a linear (or mostly linear) list of specific things the players will do, a version of executing that where the players are on board, and a version of executing that where the players do not realize that they're on a linear list of specific things/scenes. Where you really put the terminology is less relevant to me. I use 'railroading' as the first, personally, and then differentiate from t here.


There's also probably a point to be made about micro and macro railroading, where "you have to kill the evil baron", "you have to poison the evil baron", and "you have to poison the evil baron with Black Lotus Oil while he is sleeping which you do by sneaking into his room by scaling the walls of the castle". Some (perhaps even many) people are okay with the first, less with the second, and I would imagine almost none with the third.

Even "you have to kill the Baron" is (I think) slightly off base (unless they're literally given a mission to do so). Generally I'd go with "The Baron is planning on doing something terribad, that your characters wouldn't find acceptable." Killing the Baron is a solution. Generally the best way to avoid railroading is to give players problems, not solutions.

But again, I don't necessarily think even the third one is bad, if the players are on board. It lets the GM prep super-detailed, super-specific things that can be awesome if done right. It's not generally my preferred style of play, but it has its advantages.

OldTrees1
2016-04-11, 03:08 PM
I agree with the sentiment, but I don't think I'd call it railroading if you never try (or never want) to get off the rails.

There are 2 schools of thought on that and neither is entirely wrong. You require the rails to become visible in our timeline for you to call it railroading. Your judgement is focused on the present and the past. The other school of thought is examining the branching paths of the future and judging the potential presents in those paths as you would judge them presuming they occurred.

Essentially it boils down to: Is the DM railroading you if they would have forbidden your choice if you had chosen anything other than what you happened to choose? The second school sees the rails and labels it railroading. The first school sees the rails, but notes they did not change what happened and thus does not label it railroading. Neither is wrong because neither disputes the existence of the rails, they just are describing related but different concepts.

I see both terms as useful and regret them sharing the same word.

Mordar
2016-04-11, 04:16 PM
Not sure I agree. I think that any time you've got a linear structure, you're pretty much railroading. I mean, that's kind of the term, right? Forgeites (bleagh) had adopted the terms "illusionism" and "participationism" to distinguish between the "you don't know it's railroading" and "you're on board the train, choo choo!" varieties, respectively.

I mean, ultimately, there's basically three concepts here - a GM having a linear (or mostly linear) list of specific things the players will do, a version of executing that where the players are on board, and a version of executing that where the players do not realize that they're on a linear list of specific things/scenes. Where you really put the terminology is less relevant to me. I use 'railroading' as the first, personally, and then differentiate from t here.

I don't think linearity is the defining criteria for railroading...particularly if, as is mentioned elsewhere, the things that are linear are events or problems.


The Baron's heir kills the Baron
The heir becomes the new Baron
The new Baron blackmails the Bishop and gains power
The new Baron and the Bishop plot to kill the King
The king is assassinated, Gildor is framed, the Baron leads the army in glorious battle and, returning triumphant, becomes King


That's pretty linear, and those are the key events that have been laid out in the GM's brainstorm. Now, maybe the PCs become caught up in the Baron's plan...or maybe they see little bits of it unfold from a distance while they investigate the sewers of the capital city with nary a care for who wears the crown...or maybe they wander to Fudgeland to uncover the mystery of the marshmallow swamp and never give two rocky roads about who killed who and why. Maybe that's not what you meant, but having a linear array of events doesn't mean forcing the PCs to participate in those events, right?



There are 2 schools of thought on that and neither is entirely wrong. You require the rails to become visible in our timeline for you to call it railroading. Your judgement is focused on the present and the past. The other school of thought is examining the branching paths of the future and judging the potential presents in those paths as you would judge them presuming they occurred.

Essentially it boils down to: Is the DM railroading you if they would have forbidden your choice if you had chosen anything other than what you happened to choose? The second school sees the rails and labels it railroading. The first school sees the rails, but notes they did not change what happened and thus does not label it railroading. Neither is wrong because neither disputes the existence of the rails, they just are describing related but different concepts.

I see both terms as useful and regret them sharing the same word.

Well, I think there are three choices...if not three schools. One says "Let's take the train to Clarksville!" and jumps on board. One complains that they are not now, nor are they likely ever, inclined to go to Clarksville and say "You're railroading me!" But I think there is a third that says "Just because we're walking along the tracks doesn't mean we're riding a train" and may well elect to diverge when they see the marshmallow swamp mentioned above. You don't have to buy all the way in as a player, and if as a GM you've built a beautiful and enticing system of ties and rails, you're not a bad GM. Tie the players to those ties and rails, though...then you can curl your mustaches and wear your black top hat!

- M

kyoryu
2016-04-11, 05:15 PM
I don't think linearity is the defining criteria for railroading...particularly if, as is mentioned elsewhere, the things that are linear are events or problems.

Right, which is why I tried to specify that it's a linear set of specific actions the PCs will do or scenes they will take part of.


The PCs save the heir, who then kills his father.
The PCs protect the heir during his coronation when loyal elements try to stop it.
The PCs gather information on the Bishop for the Baron.


... (note that in each of these cases, it probably further breaks down into more than one scene)


Maybe that's not what you meant, but having a linear array of events doesn't mean forcing the PCs to participate in those events, right?

Again, it's more about a linear list of scenes that the PCs will take part in. Also, probably worth noting that in the example, but it should totally be possible for the players to thwart the heir's plan at some point in his plot.


But I think there is a third that says "Just because we're walking along the tracks doesn't mean we're riding a train" and may well elect to diverge when they see the marshmallow swamp mentioned above.

The only issue I have with this presentation is that it can lead to the GM logic of "if your players complain about the tracks, you just need to learn to manipulate them better." I'm pretty sure that's not what you're saying here, but it's logic I've seen.

It's also *really really* hard to put in a ton of prep for something, and then throw it away unused, so I think that even prepping a "track" leads to some level of subconscious forcing people onto it, but I have no proof or evidence of such :D

Cluedrew
2016-04-11, 05:54 PM
To everyone who has been discussing the finer edges of railroading:

I posted my personal definition of railroading already, but since it was a ways back I'll say again, "Railroading is one player/the GM forcing the players along a set path through the story." So "we are on the rails and enjoying it" is essentially an oxymoron because if they are enjoying it is simply a linear adventure (to kyoryu: I believe this is your good railroading). Now a GM tricking the players could be railroading depending on how you define force. But if a GM knows a set of players and characters so well they don't have to adjust a single plot point this is impressive to say the least (high unbelievable at the most). But I don't think it would count as force, more a good prediction than anything else and so it is not railroading either.

That just leaves us with the "bouncing off the rails" case which is the most classic type of railroading. That is railroading to me. The only other type of railroading I can think of is people have given up trying to overstep the rails because they have been knocked back to many times. (Railroading by the thread of rails.)

Appropriately enough I have a rather narrow definition of railroading.

Thrudd
2016-04-11, 06:50 PM
An important distinction for me in the consideration of railroading is whether or not the players and characters are self-motivated to pursue whatever it is the DM is putting in front of them, and whether the game's scope was dictated before/during character creation. It is very hard to expect the players to be involved in any sort of linear series of events unless they enter the game specifically designed to do so. If you decide to make the game about the players being involved with the intrigues of the Baron and the Bishop, then the characters need to be designed to specifically be tied into this plot and the players briefed on important elements of the setting and the expectations that they all have appropriate motives/goals to drive their participation. Otherwise, you almost guarantee that you must railroad the game, because it is likely that some or all of the players will have characters that could not give two hoots about intrigue and couldn't believably participate in that plot even if they wanted to.

The potential to railroad is very high when a DM plans out a linear plot like this and also fails to control the character creation process. When a game is presented as having a specific scope, I don't consider it railroading when the game and characters are required to remain within that scope. If I don't like the suggested premise of the game, I wouldn't play it.
However, when a game (especially D&D) is presented with no specified scope and no or few character creation guidelines (other than the rulebook), I would assume the game is standard in scope - an open fantasy world where my goals are to find treasure and fight monsters and look for adventure in order to gain XP and levels. Unless my characters' parameters are specified beforehand, I will make whatever sort of character I feel like, with whatever goals I feel like giving them. I will play them in a way that makes sense to me in the context of the game world. When you have a group of such characters and players, with little or no collaboration and no restrictions or requirements from the DM, railroading is also almost inevitable, since the chances that they all will want to go in the same direction, let alone go in one specific direction that the DM has planned, are very low.

The lesson is: carefully consider the character creation options for your game and inform your players as to the scope of the game you intend to run, in order to coordinate as much as possible before you get into a position where you are considering using railroading as a GM'ing strategy.

goto124
2016-04-11, 11:24 PM
About the linear adventures and railroading thing:

The players, even if they have agreed to follow the linear plot, could easily go off the rails because they interpreted the events wrongly and think they are still on the rails. A offhand detail being interpreted as an important plot event, for example ("why else would an otherwise useless NPC make a comeback?").

A bit of nudging from the DM would be required to get back onto the plot. But how does one do that without being too heavy-handed, which tends to ruin the fun?

Cluedrew
2016-04-12, 06:48 AM
On gentle nudges: Well the GM could just ask for one. If they don't want to go out-of character than either let the characters wonder off the main plot for a bit or make a few changes so that A) this is more obviously not where the players are supposed to go or B) it leads back towards where they are suppose to go.

The making changes bit may seem odd in a linear adventure, which is usually synonymous with pre-set, but I think it fits. There are lots of superficial details that can be changed will the direction of the plot remains constant. In fact I could say that little wobbles in the plot still work because the overall direction of the plot is maintained.

Lorsa
2016-04-13, 01:35 AM
About the linear adventures and railroading thing:

The players, even if they have agreed to follow the linear plot, could easily go off the rails because they interpreted the events wrongly and think they are still on the rails. A offhand detail being interpreted as an important plot event, for example ("why else would an otherwise useless NPC make a comeback?").

A bit of nudging from the DM would be required to get back onto the plot. But how does one do that without being too heavy-handed, which tends to ruin the fun?

Well, if they have agreed to follow the linear plot, how about simply saying "you're going off the plot"?

kyoryu
2016-04-13, 04:35 PM
Well, if they have agreed to follow the linear plot, how about simply saying "you're going off the plot"?

I've never understood why this idea is so terrible to some.

BayardSPSR
2016-04-13, 04:38 PM
I've never understood why this idea is so terrible to some.

Sometimes people seem to forget that RPGs are games played at tables with other people who you can directly communicate with outside your roles of "GM" or "player."

goto124
2016-04-14, 01:18 AM
I've never understood why this idea is so terrible to some.

Seems hamfisted, to be honest. Especially if it has to be repeated constantly over the course of the adventure.

Lorsa
2016-04-14, 02:09 AM
Seems hamfisted, to be honest. Especially if it has to be repeated constantly over the course of the adventure.

If it happens often enough and you dislike verbal statements, perhaps use some form of body language to signal it? Or changes in speech pattern? Most humans are very good at understanding non-verbal cues.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-14, 07:30 AM
Seems hamfisted, to be honest. Especially if it has to be repeated constantly over the course of the adventure.

It's not hamfisted. Hamfisted would be yelling "Stop going off the rails" This is just saying "Here there not ne dragons nor dungeons nor any form of prepared thing"

Darth Ultron
2016-04-16, 12:13 AM
Well, if they have agreed to follow the linear plot, how about simply saying "you're going off the plot"?

This really breaks the immersion and ruins the game.

Most RPG's work best if everyone believes the ''game reality'' is ''real'' once the game starts and that they are not just ''sitting around playing a game''. So a player gets all into ''role playing the character in the world'', not ''just playing a game''.

So when the DM says something like ''ok, guys stop the game! You need to take the left path'' is not a good thing.

Segev
2016-04-16, 12:49 AM
This really breaks the immersion and ruins the game.

Most RPG's work best if everyone believes the ''game reality'' is ''real'' once the game starts and that they are not just ''sitting around playing a game''. So a player gets all into ''role playing the character in the world'', not ''just playing a game''.

So when the DM says something like ''ok, guys stop the game! You need to take the left path'' is not a good thing.

Agreed, though generally speaking, if the party has refused to follow the hooks and is harring off to where nothing is prepared, then somebody's already made a mistake, and an OOC correction of that mistake might be less harmful than increasingly ham-fisted attempts to force it. Immersion is lost either way, once the rails become obvious; if everybody's okay with being on the rails, pointing them out so they can get back to "the good stuff" is usually better than making them play "guess where the plot hook was."

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-16, 03:29 AM
This really breaks the immersion and ruins the game.

Most RPG's work best if everyone believes the ''game reality'' is ''real'' once the game starts and that they are not just ''sitting around playing a game''. So a player gets all into ''role playing the character in the world'', not ''just playing a game''.

So when the DM says something like ''ok, guys stop the game! You need to take the left path'' is not a good thing.

"Immersion" is a big pile of nonsense and I don't understand the need to cultivate it like it's sacred.

At no point in the game will you become unaware of the reality of being a person playing a game unless things get straight-up theatrical in the room. But there is no way in hell that you'll be sitting at a table reading a character sheet and eating cheetos while at the same time feeling like you are ACTUALLY in a vaguely european medieval town and you're actually a wizard and etc. Immersion isn't a thing that happens outside of actual simulated experiences. And even then, not really.

At worst, this puts a hiccup in the flow of the in-character conversation. (What most people are actually talking about when they complain about immersion) The good news is, this hiccup will be forgotten within minutes, and it does more good than harm.

Cluedrew
2016-04-16, 01:13 PM
I'm in the boat that the GM commenting on the plot is no more "immersion breaking"* than the other types of out-of-character of conversation. Asking about stats is a big one but things like passing around snacks also count. So really things have to be happening outside of the game all the time and coordinating what his happing in the game seems like one of the better uses of out-of-character chatter.

* I do feel you can be aware that you are in the real world while at the same time feel like you are a part of the story, which is why a lot of the following things are not very immersion breaking to me on their own.

kyoryu
2016-04-16, 05:18 PM
If it happens often enough and you dislike verbal statements, perhaps use some form of body language to signal it? Or changes in speech pattern? Most humans are very good at understanding non-verbal cues.

Ideal? No. But I think that version of suckitude is less than the suckitude of blocking everything the players do or "invisibly" (which is never as invisible as GMs think) guiding them back onto the rails.

Sometimes there's no ideal solution, just a less sucky one.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-16, 05:58 PM
I know there are games that play very robotically. Where the DM will say things like "your characters move to location A12 and will now have Encounter 7-1". And, sure that is a valid play style and is fun to some.

It is a play style thing sure. Some people think it's fun to play an RPG in a very detached way...like a video game.

Cluedrew
2016-04-16, 06:26 PM
OK Darth Ultron if you were describing my ... anecdote as a detached let me tell you another anecdote. When my character is handcuffed (that doesn't happen very often) I will put my hands behind my back to mimic the position the character is in. There are other examples of things like that but I hope that get the point across I am actually a very "attached" sort of player. On another note I often feel that stats are more immersion breaking than conversation about the plot. (I know nothing was addressed to me but the timing.)

Other wise yes, I agree with you. Some people do play RPGs like computer-less video games. D&D is a great system for that in my opinion because it has a lot of underpinnings in common with video games. The type of "detached" play I can think of is when role-playing starts to transform into story-telling. A closely related/overlapping sort of game but one where you don't really descend into the characters in the same way.

goto124
2016-04-16, 09:51 PM
When my character is handcuffed (that doesn't happen very often) I will put my hands behind my back to mimic the position the character is in.

Why am I suddenly wondering if you crash into the gaming table and knock over the snacks while trying to pick up your miniature with your teeth?

Primus Beno
2016-04-17, 03:51 AM
The best source I can find that prevents me from railroading my PC's as a DM was the way Dungeon World presents playing a game. Let the characters make up the world around them with some guided questions.

For example, we started our last game off like this.


-Now that the cell door's open, which one of you is
getting sprung?

-What's so important that the duke had you arrested?

-Why aren't the guards arresting all of you right now?

- What was the hardest part about breaking into prison?

- What other prisoner can't you leave behind and what
will happen if you do?

-After what you did to him, will the jailer live?

-Had the dead breached the walls of the city when you
entered the dungeon?


With those questions, I just need to plan for a Duke, maybe a Dungeon and a lot of low level undead. I let the players answer all of those questions, coming to a consensus about where they want their story to go and then I run with what they come up with. It was a lot of fun and they were quite creative about who the Duke was, why someone was in jail, how much time till the Dead were in the city, how they were related to the guard...and at no time did I ever feel that they were "off plot" since they came up with the plot themselves.

It was very satisfying.

neonchameleon
2016-04-17, 08:31 AM
"Immersion" is a big pile of nonsense and I don't understand the need to cultivate it like it's sacred.

At no point in the game will you become unaware of the reality of being a person playing a game unless things get straight-up theatrical in the room. But there is no way in hell that you'll be sitting at a table reading a character sheet and eating cheetos while at the same time feeling like you are ACTUALLY in a vaguely european medieval town and you're actually a wizard and etc. Immersion isn't a thing that happens outside of actual simulated experiences. And even then, not really.

At worst, this puts a hiccup in the flow of the in-character conversation. (What most people are actually talking about when they complain about immersion) The good news is, this hiccup will be forgotten within minutes, and it does more good than harm.

This is a misunderstanding of what immersion actually is (caused by most people who talk about immersion not knowing what immersion actually is).

Immersion is about flow. It's about having sufficient mastery of what is going on that you can respond intuitively rather than having to consciously think about what you should be doing at a mechanical level. When I was in practice at chess, I used to be able to play pretty well almost entirely using my intuition and without actually calcuating what was going on. When a chess grand master plays they literally don't see the bad moves, they're so in tune with the game.

The key for immersion is "Oh, that's so natural I don't have to think about that". You've accepted whatever the chains of thought for the game are so they don't get in your way and you can concentrate on the situation.

And one of the reasons D. Vincent Baker's games are so easily immersive is that he builds the resolution structure round the natural flow of freeform roleplay - you only ever role when a freeform roleplayer would hand the narration over, so the rules only intrude for someone with no tabletop RP experience at the point where there would be a handover anyway. They almost never cut the player off in full flow unless they would be god-moding.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-17, 09:37 AM
This is a misunderstanding of what immersion actually is (caused by most people who talk about immersion not knowing what immersion actually is).

Immersion is about flow. It's about having sufficient mastery of what is going on that you can respond intuitively rather than having to consciously think about what you should be doing at a mechanical level. When I was in practice at chess, I used to be able to play pretty well almost entirely using my intuition and without actually calcuating what was going on. When a chess grand master plays they literally don't see the bad moves, they're so in tune with the game.

The key for immersion is "Oh, that's so natural I don't have to think about that". You've accepted whatever the chains of thought for the game are so they don't get in your way and you can concentrate on the situation.

And one of the reasons D. Vincent Baker's games are so easily immersive is that he builds the resolution structure round the natural flow of freeform roleplay - you only ever role when a freeform roleplayer would hand the narration over, so the rules only intrude for someone with no tabletop RP experience at the point where there would be a handover anyway. They almost never cut the player off in full flow unless they would be god-moding.

That's all well and good, but a lot of AW involves out-of-character conversation about the game. You literally bring up the rules so often that no one will forget about them, and players will constantly make sarcastic OOC jokes because that's a solid portion of the fun. You switch between being in and out of character CONSTANTLY as you play any trpg. Doing it to bring uo a problem is at worst slightly more flow-breaking than the standard OOC banter.

And what's more, Immersion isn't actually used like that in gaming. It's why games without HUD's are considered more immersive, why Immersive Mods make the game behave less noticeably like a game, etc. People use it in exactly the same sense when talking about TRPGs, not in the way you're talking about. Whatever that is, is a very different sense of the word that nobody is talking about. Whenever people ask for how to make their experience more immersive, people NEVER recommend improving the flow of the game. It always has to do with making the world seem real-er. Let's at least be honest about how people actually use that word.

neonchameleon
2016-04-17, 02:44 PM
And what's more, Immersion isn't actually used like that in gaming. It's why games without HUD's are considered more immersive, why Immersive Mods make the game behave less noticeably like a game, etc. People use it in exactly the same sense when talking about TRPGs, not in the way you're talking about. Whatever that is, is a very different sense of the word that nobody is talking about. Whenever people ask for how to make their experience more immersive, people NEVER recommend improving the flow of the game. It always has to do with making the world seem real-er. Let's at least be honest about how people actually use that word.

And you've just managed to trip over yourself with your own example. Games without HUDs are considered more immersive not because it's more realistic to do things without a HUD. It isn't. They are considered more immersive because HUDs are intrusive unless you've spent a lot of time getting used to them. Your own examples are arguing in favour of a simplified gamist unreality over a more complex reality where the reality would be complex.

And the reason most supposedly realistic games have flopped is because no one wants to deal with an actually realistic situation. Reality is complex. They want a simplified gamist environment with no jagged edges to get stuck on. It's one of those cases where what people ask for and what they want are normally at odds.

Cluedrew
2016-04-17, 03:35 PM
Why am I suddenly wondering if you crash into the gaming table and knock over the snacks while trying to pick up your miniature with your teeth?I don't know why you are wondering that. Clearly I would just use my mind powers to move the miniatures.

On Immersion: I'm going to say that neonchameleon's definition of immersion makes more sense to me, but I don't think that means ImNotTrevor is wrong. First off because that latter was talking about how people use the word, which is often not quite what the word really means. Which is intern is explained by some of the things he said. For instance out-of-character and in-character, seems like a big jump but people do it all the time and barely notice because of game flow.

For instance (using the Apocalypse World as an example) a player describes an action, MC calls a move, player looks up stat, rolls dice, determines strength of hit, chooses some options, MC may answer some questions or narrate part of the result, player will continue with the character action. There are a sequence of jumps between who is in control, what they are doing, in/out-of-character and more, but you hardly notice because it is all part of the flow.

However if even if one of these jumps goes outside the flow, say the GM brakes out a game of hangman to give the players a clue (S.U.E.), well people notice really quickly.

Similar idea with HUDs (or bits of UI to give information to the player), if they are well designed they are part of the game flow and you barely notice the switch, but if badly designed each switch is a jitter in the game flow.

So actually there seem to be some really good examples in there.

ImNotTrevor
2016-04-17, 05:00 PM
And you've just managed to trip over yourself with your own example. Games without HUDs are considered more immersive not because it's more realistic to do things without a HUD. It isn't. They are considered more immersive because HUDs are intrusive unless you've spent a lot of time getting used to them. Your own examples are arguing in favour of a simplified gamist unreality over a more complex reality where the reality would be complex.


This sounds eerily like Circular Logic.
Allow me to kick this idea in the crotch:
Killzone 2.

Killzone 2 was marketed as being more immersive SPECIFICALLY because the HUD was not visible except when strictly necessary. (Playing as a footsoldier without a helmet on would mean no HUD, just like in real life.) This was billed as being Realistic, not as being Non-distracting.

You're bending the cause to suit your definition. Which isn't the actual reasoning, and by nitpicking one small example instead of disproving the core idea. (Which you didn't do.)



And the reason most supposedly realistic games have flopped is because no one wants to deal with an actually realistic situation. Reality is complex. They want a simplified gamist environment with no jagged edges to get stuck on. It's one of those cases where what people ask for and what they want are normally at odds.
Which realistic games that have flopped? Where do you get your figures for "most?"
Dark Souls doesn't claim to be "realistic" but dragons and hellish demons are as hard to kill as should actually be expected. And I would hardly call it a "flop." (Though I'm still not sure what we're counting as Realistic, here. Train Simulator sold well enough for a few sequels, as did Euro Truck Simulator.) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare billed itself as realistic, as well. And we all know how badly that sold. The series died then and there, right? Right?

There is a point where Simulationism can get to extreme for its own good, but most games claiming to be more immersive and realistic are doing fine. Hell, VR is starting to take off because it is "more immersive" to actually look around and see the world.

As I said, no one actually uses "Immersion" in the way you're describing, nor is what you're talking about what they think of when they hear that word.

Here, hold on. I'll ask my wife. Irl.

My question:
"When you hear a game described as 'Immersive,' what does that mean to you?"

Her response:
"I immediately think of VR headsets. A game so realistic and engaging that you forget you're playing a game."

Data point of 1, but it's closer to what I'm talking about than it just being a flowing experience. It obviously does need to be engaging to be immersive, but engaging on its own is not immersive.

For good examples, see here:

https://m.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/24ank6/what_is_the_most_immersive_game_you_have_ever/

Some praise the HUD being there realistically vs. When it ought not to be. Most, though, are about little details that make the game world feel real.

Thrudd
2016-04-17, 05:12 PM
What I mean/think of as "immersion" in relation to an RPG is the degree to which the players are making decisions as though they were the characters, from the characters' points of view. Being immersed in the game world. Ideally, the game mechanics support this, and being engaged as a player means being immersed in the world as much as possible.

Cluedrew
2016-04-17, 05:22 PM
I decided to get the actual definition of immersion (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immersion) (as much as a word can have an actual definition). It reads as follows:



: the act of immersing or the state of being immersed: as

baptism by complete submersion of the person in water
absorbing involvement <immersion in politics>
instruction based on extensive exposure to surroundings or conditions that are native or pertinent to the object of study; especially : foreign language instruction in which only the language being taught is used <learned French through immersion>
Pay particular attention to meaning (b), as that is the one that relates to our conversation. It says nothing about how it is created or reduced. In other words things that "immerse (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immersing)" are defined only in that they create immersion. Which in this context is actually pretty subjective. But if the things mentioned above create immersion, then they are immersive and not to the exclusion of each other.

Now we can go and try to define absorbing involvement and what that means for role-playing, but I'd bet that it would turn out to be pretty subjective too. Thrudd's definition looks like a pretty good benchmark though.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-17, 10:32 PM
OK Darth Ultron if you were describing my ... anecdote as a detached let me tell you another anecdote. When my character is handcuffed (that doesn't happen very often) I will put my hands behind my back to mimic the position the character is in.

I've never seen this, but then I have also never had a game where people dressed up like their characters either.



The best source I can find that prevents me from railroading my PC's as a DM was the way Dungeon World presents playing a game. Let the characters make up the world around them with some guided questions.

For example, we started our last game off like this.


Well, your game sounds like a good example of the ''everyone is a DM'' style or the ''players are DM's'' or even, at worst, ''the DM is a slave to the players. It's a fine playstlye, but not too common. Most games have the DM make up everything with no input from the players other then vague suggestions.

Comet
2016-04-17, 10:43 PM
The way I see it, the whole railroading GM thing boils down to a pretty simple continuum:

The GM is interested in his own ideas <------------------------------------------------------> The GM is interested in his players' ideas

Most GM's land somewhere in the middle there, leaning one way or another and that's fine. The extremes are dangerous as you're either going to want to write a novel or just watch the game if you have too little or too much interest in what everyone else but you has to say.

So, yeah, that's the way I see it. The GM should be interested in what the players bring to the table, but I definitely understand that gut feeling of having done a lot of work with maps and backstory and all that creative stuff and wanting to present that to the players as entirely as possible. That's dangerous territory, for sure, but I understand where it comes from.

OldTrees1
2016-04-17, 11:57 PM
The way I see it, the whole railroading GM thing boils down to a pretty simple continuum:

The GM is interested in his own ideas <------------------------------------------------------> The GM is interested in his players' ideas

Most GM's land somewhere in the middle there, leaning one way or another and that's fine. The extremes are dangerous as you're either going to want to write a novel or just watch the game if you have too little or too much interest in what everyone else but you has to say.

So, yeah, that's the way I see it. The GM should be interested in what the players bring to the table, but I definitely understand that gut feeling of having done a lot of work with maps and backstory and all that creative stuff and wanting to present that to the players as entirely as possible. That's dangerous territory, for sure, but I understand where it comes from.

Have you considered that your "continuum" conflates 2 separate variables? Compare the extremes of "the GM barely cares about their own ideas but does not care at all about the players" and "the GM cares a lot about their own ideas but also cares a lot about the players' ideas".

Of the 2 variables, caring about the players' ideas correlates closer with not railroading. (although it is not 1:1)

Comet
2016-04-18, 12:14 AM
Have you considered that your "continuum" conflates 2 separate variables? Compare the extremes of "the GM barely cares about their own ideas but does not care at all about the players" and "the GM cares a lot about their own ideas but also cares a lot about the players' ideas".

Of the 2 variables, caring about the players' ideas correlates closer with not railroading. (although it is not 1:1)

Sure, in an ideal world everyone would get their say. But there's only a limited amount of minutes given to any gaming table, so eventually the GM has to decide whether to spend those minutes talking about his own cool ideas or listening to those of his players.

A GM that decides to spend every single one of those minutes listening to what the players think would be great for the game is just watching. A GM that decides to spend every single one those minutes telling the players about the thinks would be great is just telling a story. Neither does a roleplaying game any favours, though both can be made to work if the whole group is prepared for it. A happy medium is probably preferred in most groups, though.

Railroading, then, comes from a GM that has a lot of cool ideas prepared but not enough time to present those ideas while also listening to the ideas of his players. It all comes down to those precious minutes.

Knaight
2016-04-18, 01:46 AM
Sure, in an ideal world everyone would get their say. But there's only a limited amount of minutes given to any gaming table, so eventually the GM has to decide whether to spend those minutes talking about his own cool ideas or listening to those of his players.

That's not the point being made. The point being made is that two separate spectrum are being collapsed together. A GM has a given amount of investment in their work (which can vary game to game, group to group, etc.). They also care a given amount about what the players are doing. These don't necessarily affect each other much, and it's possible to have both or neither in any real quantity. Both generally looks like the sort of really good game people talk about for years afterwards. Neither tends to look like phoning in a railroad.

Comet
2016-04-18, 02:05 AM
That's not the point being made. The point being made is that two separate spectrum are being collapsed together. A GM has a given amount of investment in their work (which can vary game to game, group to group, etc.). They also care a given amount about what the players are doing. These don't necessarily affect each other much, and it's possible to have both or neither in any real quantity. Both generally looks like the sort of really good game people talk about for years afterwards. Neither tends to look like phoning in a railroad.

Fair enough, a good GM can and probably will be equally interested in everyone's input. In actual play, though, you're going to have to decide how much of that interest in the players' input translates into actually listening and reacting to that input when it can actively subtract from time spent on material that you have prepared ahead of time and spent quite a bit of work on.

Railroading only happens when a GM doesn't have the time or the interest to involve the players in the game. This can happen for the best of reasons, maybe the GM has put a hundred hours into maps and lore and really thinks the players' lives will be enrichened by witnessing all that great work, but it still fundamentally means that the GM is not actually all that interested in what the players bring to the table.

I'm talking in the broadest possible terms here, which is a bit frustrating but necessary since there are so many different games and styles of gaming out there. What I'm trying to get at, and I don't think we disagree here, is that a good GM is capable of examining his priorities and seeing whether the players are actually involved in the game or not. Railroading is one specific example of this larger dynamic of how roleplaying games fundamentally function. I say something, you say something back and the story is built out of that interaction if and when both parties are actually interested in what the other has to say.

lacco36
2016-04-18, 07:06 AM
Have you considered that your "continuum" conflates 2 separate variables? Compare the extremes of "the GM barely cares about their own ideas but does not care at all about the players" and "the GM cares a lot about their own ideas but also cares a lot about the players' ideas".

Of the 2 variables, caring about the players' ideas correlates closer with not railroading. (although it is not 1:1)

Sounds like we could create a GM alignment table... :smallsmile:

Cluedrew
2016-04-18, 07:27 AM
I've never seen this, but then I have also never had a game where people dressed up like their characters either.OK ... and? I mean you seem to be trying to make a point about that because you called out that particular line and responded to it. If your point is just "oh that's interesting" its fine.


Well, your game sounds like a good example of the ''everyone is a DM'' style or the ''players are DM's'' or even, at worst, ''the DM is a slave to the players. It's a fine playstlye, but not too common. Most games have the DM make up everything with no input from the players other then vague suggestions.Not really, I have to make some assumptions about Primus Beno's games from my own experiences with Hacked World systems. But although the system does encourage distributing parts of the MC's (=GM=DM) role the MC remains very distinct from the other players.

A simple way to put it is that the system builds in player input to the MC, but it still maintains the MC as the final arbiter. That's sort of an approximation but I'm out of time.

OldTrees1
2016-04-18, 08:44 AM
Sounds like we could create a GM alignment table... :smallsmile:
Rather boring table



P value=0
P value>0


DM value=0
Apathy
Simulation


DM value>0
Tyrant
Subjective
Zone

kyoryu
2016-04-18, 10:38 AM
Immersion is about flow. It's about having sufficient mastery of what is going on that you can respond intuitively rather than having to consciously think about what you should be doing at a mechanical level. When I was in practice at chess, I used to be able to play pretty well almost entirely using my intuition and without actually calcuating what was going on. When a chess grand master plays they literally don't see the bad moves, they're so in tune with the game.

I view "immersion" as flow state + world (rather than rules) focus.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-19, 09:39 PM
Railroading only happens when a GM doesn't have the time or the interest to involve the players in the game.

This seems far to simple of a definition.



Railroading is one specific example of this larger dynamic of how roleplaying games fundamentally function. I say something, you say something back and the story is built out of that interaction if and when both parties are actually interested in what the other has to say.

It's a bit much to say ''role playing games''. They are not all group hug think collaboration of fairness and happiness. Sure, there are games like that, notably ones made by D&D haters. But a lot of role playing games, like D&D are more ''DM makes up the stuff and runs the game and the players just play''.





Not really, I have to make some assumptions about Primus Beno's games from my own experiences with Hacked World systems. But although the system does encourage distributing parts of the MC's (=GM=DM) role the MC remains very distinct from the other players.

A simple way to put it is that the system builds in player input to the MC, but it still maintains the MC as the final arbiter. That's sort of an approximation but I'm out of time.

And again, there are tons of anti-D&D type games out there. Lots of people played classic D&D way back when, but they did not like this or that in the game. Then one day they made their own game and added in all sorts of rules to make sure there game was nothing like D&D and supported all their wacky ideas about everything else too.

Cluedrew
2016-04-19, 09:54 PM
Hey Darth Ultron: I am currently working on my own pen & paper role-playing game. It's two largest influences are Dungeons and Dragons and Apocalypse World. So this whole "work together" thing found in Apocalypse World is not just some lashing out against D&D.

Personally, I think "everyone gets to make up stuff" is one of the greatest strengths PP/TT RPGs have over computer games. If you don't like that part, you don't have to use it and that is fine. But don't act like it is some weird anti-D&D fringe movement, its not, I've seen it recommended in D&D DMing Guides.

kyoryu
2016-04-19, 10:11 PM
It's a bit much to say ''role playing games''. They are not all group hug think collaboration of fairness and happiness. Sure, there are games like that, notably ones made by D&D haters. But a lot of role playing games, like D&D are more ''DM makes up the stuff and runs the game and the players just play''.

It's really not. The basic loop of a roleplaying game is:

GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?"
Player: "I do this!"
GM: "Okay, this is the new situation. What do you do?"

(There's a couple minor of variations, but this one is the case for about 90% of games).

Lorsa
2016-04-20, 03:01 AM
It's really not. The basic loop of a roleplaying game is:

GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?"
Player: "I do this!"
GM: "Okay, this is the new situation. What do you do?"

(There's a couple minor of variations, but this one is the case for about 90% of games).

Actually it's more like 99.99% of the games.

SirBellias
2016-04-20, 06:56 AM
Well, your game sounds like a good example of the ''everyone is a DM'' style or the ''players are DM's'' or even, at worst, ''the DM is a slave to the players. It's a fine playstlye, but not too common. Most games have the DM make up everything with no input from the players other then vague suggestions.

I'd like to say that a large portion of d&d games I've played in have been like what you said most games are.

Most games I run using d&d are a mess of ideas my players give me and my own. I like to cooperate with my players when creating the world because I think that it makes them more involved in it. Dungeon World and other Powered by the Apocalypse games are meant to be played like that (up to it being a major portion of the book). I don't know if most games have the DM make up almost everything, but in my experience it's around half of them, most of which can be played with everyone contributing easily and to great effect. Really, most systems that I've read that say "this is how you have to run this game" are of the cooperative world building perspective, and most systems that don't clearly state how the GMs have to play are assumed to be the "DM builds the world singlehandedly" variety by lots of people. It can be done either way though, so based on my experience cooperative building is more prevalent.

EDIT: I missed a page, but most of this is still relevant, it seems. I'd agree that kyoryu's model of the structure of most role playing games is exactly correct for almost all of them. Accept Paranoia on a fun day.

Also, most of my earlier observations are about building the world before and in the first session. Obviously, most of the world creation after the start of play is collaborative on all accounts.

Cluedrew
2016-04-20, 06:56 AM
I'm going to take a stab at modifying kyoryu's game loop to show how railroading effects the cycle.

GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?"
Player: "I do this!"
GM: "Okay, this is the new situation despite what you did. What do you do?"

It is small but I think that is roughly what it looks like.

Lorsa
2016-04-20, 08:25 AM
I'm going to take a stab at modifying kyoryu's game loop to show how railroading effects the cycle.

GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?"
Player: "I do this!"
GM: "Okay, this is the new situation despite what you did. What do you do?"

It is small but I think that is roughly what it looks like.

Yes, that is one example of railroading. Others would be:

GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?"
Player: "I do this!"
GM: "No you don't."

or

GM: "This is the situation. You do this. This is the new situation. You do this. This is the last situation, NOW what do you do?"
Player: "... I go home, this game sucks."

Lorsa
2016-04-20, 08:39 AM
This seems far to simple of a definition.

Unlike your definitions, which are stellar examples of non-simplicity, clear logical reasoning and resonates well with everyday language?



It's a bit much to say ''role playing games''. They are not all group hug think collaboration of fairness and happiness. Sure, there are games like that, notably ones made by D&D haters. But a lot of role playing games, like D&D are more ''DM makes up the stuff and runs the game and the players just play''.

What counts as "playing" in your mind?

If "just play" equals "sitting still listening to the DM and occasionally rolling dice", then that is hardly a lot of games, and especially NOT how D&D is meant to be played.

If "just play" equals "listening to the DM and then replying with character action and occasionally rolling dice", then it is the same as the above-mentioned group hug think collaboration of fairness and happiness.



And again, there are tons of anti-D&D type games out there. Lots of people played classic D&D way back when, but they did not like this or that in the game. Then one day they made their own game and added in all sorts of rules to make sure there game was nothing like D&D and supported all their wacky ideas about everything else too.

Yes, just because a game differs from another, it means it is "anti" the other.

Even for you, this is a new low.

OldTrees1
2016-04-20, 09:07 AM
I'm going to take a stab at modifying kyoryu's game loop to show how railroading effects the cycle.

GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?"
Player: "I do this!"
GM: "Okay, this is the new situation despite what you did. What do you do?"



GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?"
Player: "I do this!"
GM: "No you don't."

or

GM: "This is the situation."
GM: "You do this."
GM: "This is the new situation."

Yeah, these 3 examples seem to cover the spectrum of railroading fairly well(with the top being the least and the bottom being the most railroaded). I think most of the continuum falls under Cluedrew's example(since that is the formulation that people tend to be okay with to some degree or another).

Knaight
2016-04-20, 09:16 AM
Actually it's more like 99.99% of the games.

I doubt it. GMless games alone probably come to more than 0.01% of games, and obviously they don't have that loop. Then there are games with more complicated loops, which include things like players temporarily taking the narrative via spending some sort of metagame currency, cuts to other groups of PCs as every player has more than one, or other such things.

Lorsa
2016-04-20, 10:19 AM
I doubt it. GMless games alone probably come to more than 0.01% of games, and obviously they don't have that loop. Then there are games with more complicated loops, which include things like players temporarily taking the narrative via spending some sort of metagame currency, cuts to other groups of PCs as every player has more than one, or other such things.

Fair enough. I merely had a feeling that the 90% was underestimating a bit, but you're right that 99.99% is overestimating. Probably true statistics are hard to get, and quite irrelevant anyway.

kyoryu
2016-04-20, 10:23 AM
Actually it's more like 99.99% of the games.

The other two major models that I've seen are:

GM: "This is the situation."
Player: "I modify the situation using this defined mechanical rule."
GM: "I modify the situation using this defined mechanical rule."

and...

Player 1: "This happens!"
Player 2: "Then this happens!"
Player 3: "And then this happens!"
(in this model, one of the players can be a GM, but it's not inherently necessary.)

Darth Ultron
2016-04-20, 06:48 PM
Personally, I think "everyone gets to make up stuff" is one of the greatest strengths PP/TT RPGs have over computer games. If you don't like that part, you don't have to use it and that is fine. But don't act like it is some weird anti-D&D fringe movement, its not, I've seen it recommended in D&D DMing Guides.

You might note I said ''classic D&D'' and not ''all types of D&D''. I'm talking classic before 3E D&D: All powerful DM, Rules as suggestions, Unfairness, Unbalncedness, Harsh, Cruel, and very politically incorrect.

I know there are other types of styles.



It's really not. The basic loop of a roleplaying game is:

GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?"
Player: "I do this!"
GM: "Okay, this is the new situation. What do you do?"

(There's a couple minor of variations, but this one is the case for about 90% of games).

And how is this a ''collaboration?" This is describing a player interacting with the DM's world, right? So the DM has 99.9% of the control, and the player has that mostly illusionary control over the single PC.



Most games I run using d&d are a mess of ideas my players give me and my own. I like to cooperate with my players when creating the world because I think that it makes them more involved in it.

I see a big diffrance between ''the players make a suggestion or two and then be silent and play'' and ''the players are CO-DM's making up the world as they go along even more so then the DM''.



If "just play" equals "listening to the DM and then replying with character action and occasionally rolling dice", then it is the same as the above-mentioned group hug think collaboration of fairness and happiness.


Well, no the above is ''normal game play'', like in my games.

The ''group hug think collaboration of fairness and happiness'' is playing like ''the DM says something and the players take it and shape it into something wonderful that not even the poor, poor DM could have thought of and then the players show it to the amazed DM, who gets to add a tiny touch or two and everyone just sits in amazement and awe at what was made...oh, and roll some dice maybe.''



Even for you, this is a new low.

When you hit rock bottom you can only go sideways.

kyoryu
2016-04-20, 07:23 PM
You might note I said ''classic D&D'' and not ''all types of D&D''. I'm talking classic before 3E D&D: All powerful DM, Rules as suggestions, Unfairness, Unbalncedness, Harsh, Cruel, and very politically incorrect.

I know there are other types of styles.

That's a pretty interesting view of early D&D. Perhaps I'll ask some of the people I know that played with Gary or his family if they think that's accurate. Though, I'd suspect they'd disagree with at least some of the points, if not the implications thereof.

And how is this a ''collaboration?" This is describing a player interacting with the DM's world, right? So the DM has 99.9% of the control, and the player has that mostly illusionary control over the single PC.

Because the original description you took exception to was:



I say something, you say something back and the story is built out of that interaction if and when both parties are actually interested in what the other has to say.


I see a big diffrance between ''the players make a suggestion or two and then be silent and play'' and ''the players are CO-DM's making up the world as they go along even more so then the DM''.

And nobody said that. As usual, you're arguing against points people aren't making.


Well, no the above is ''normal game play'', like in my games.

The ''group hug think collaboration of fairness and happiness'' is playing like ''the DM says something and the players take it and shape it into something wonderful that not even the poor, poor DM could have thought of and then the players show it to the amazed DM, who gets to add a tiny touch or two and everyone just sits in amazement and awe at what was made...oh, and roll some dice maybe.''

Really, just try answering what people actually said instead of a twisted verison of it. It makes conversations more productive.

Cluedrew
2016-04-20, 09:54 PM
You might note I said ''classic D&D'' and not ''all types of D&D''. [...] I know there are other types of styles.I understand you know there are other styles, my point here was they are not "anti-D&D". Well there might be a few but I have never seen a game defined as "not D&D". Secondly, many of them are worth playing. Third, yes you didn't say "all types of D&D", you also didn't say "all types of RPGs".


And how is this a ''collaboration?" This is describing a player interacting with the DM's world, right? So the DM has 99.9% of the control, and the player has that mostly illusionary control over the single PC.I agree 99.9% of the world is under the GM's control, but the world is nothing but props. How much of the script does the GM control? Usually less than half. I think you drastically underestimate the power locked inside of step 2.

An aside: What is you non-D&D role-playing game experience Darth Ultron?

Darth Ultron
2016-04-21, 04:57 PM
That's a pretty interesting view of early D&D. Perhaps I'll ask some of the people I know that played with Gary or his family if they think that's accurate. Though, I'd suspect they'd disagree with at least some of the points, if not the implications thereof.

Sure, I guess if the way Gary or a couple other people you know know played one way that must mean something to the untold millions who have played the game right?



And how is this a ''collaboration?" This is describing a player interacting with the DM's world, right? So the DM has 99.9% of the control, and the player has that mostly illusionary control over the single PC.

And nobody said that. As usual, you're arguing against points people aren't making.

The co-DM idea is pretty clear, I'm not sure where you don't see it.

Normal game: DM makes up and controls everything and makes out a plot/plan/story. A player might randomly say ''this would be cool or I'd like this'', but it's utterly meaningless. Though the DM can, of course, use the players suggestion if they want too.

The other game: The DM makes up random stuff. The players then interact with the stuff, a random and the players make outright demands of ''I want this or that'' and the DM willing rolls over and says ''ok-day'' and makes whatever the players tell him to do.




An aside: What is you non-D&D role-playing game experience Darth Ultron?

Whitewolf, GRUPS, Star Wars(ye old west ends game d6), Toon, Savage worlds, Robotech, Marvel Super Heros, and, um, is Traveler the one where ''the computer is your friend?"

Brookshw
2016-04-21, 06:51 PM
An aside: What is you non-D&D role-playing game experience Darth Ultron?

Just an observation but everytime I see someone bold the person they're addressing, calling them out by name, it seems they're trying to undercut the argument by the virtue of who's making it rather than upon the merits with a side of playing to the audience. When you're replying to a wall of quotes by someone its a pretty safe bet we know who you're talking to/about.

is Traveler the one where ''the computer is your friend?"

I think you're thinking of Paranoia but my security clearance isn't high enough to be sure.

Segev
2016-04-22, 09:15 AM
Normal game: DM makes up and controls everything and makes out a plot/plan/story. A player might randomly say ''this would be cool or I'd like this'', but it's utterly meaningless. Though the DM can, of course, use the players suggestion if they want too.

The other game: The DM makes up random stuff. The players then interact with the stuff, a random and the players make outright demands of ''I want this or that'' and the DM willing rolls over and says ''ok-day'' and makes whatever the players tell him to do.


I am disappointed to see you back to calling anything that is not the DM's "plot/plan/story" "random." Because improvisation, as we've discussed, is not inherently random.

By your logic, if the PCs walk into a tavern and don't stick to a specified script, the NPCs saying anything that the DM hadn't written down verbatim is "random." So if the PCs attack the bartender by stabbing him, and he says "ow," him saying "ow" was "random," according to your apparent logic. Not, you know, a reasonable verbal outburst for having been stabbed. Similarly, "You jerks!" and "why would you do that!?" are random, not, again, reasonable improvisations based on the situation. Calling for help, too, is "random," because it's not to be expected that a civilian being attacked by thugs would cry out for help. It's "random," too, when a patrol of city guards (pre-established in the DM's notes to include 4 people with specified stats) show up in response to the loud cries for help.

SirBellias
2016-04-22, 11:46 AM
I see a big diffrance between ''the players make a suggestion or two and then be silent and play'' and ''the players are CO-DM's making up the world as they go along even more so then the DM''.


Yes, so do I. I was just giving an example based on my experience with what works in my group. Both of those are valid options. The other DM in my group frequently runs the other way, with players less involved in building the world, and it works fine. That is due, primarily, to him planning out a few encounters he thinks would be interesting, and then improvising the rest based on what the players try to do, that makes sense in the world. After one game he told me he completely made up one of the witnesses of a robbery during the game, because we asked about it (showing interest) and it was a viable way to get us some clues we were in need of to come to the right conclusions. If he didn't have that character in there, we would have probably have spent a lot longer trying to piece together what happened, and possibly wasted time exploring dead ends.

My way is similar, except I plan less and take more suggestions. I just like to let my players do things they're interested in. There are all sorts of mediums between "barely any collaboration on startup" to "mostly player based startup," but after the game starts it is entirely driven by the player and character motivations.

Hmmm. I don't recall having a point I was trying to get at, but oh well. I guess it was that I DM one way, and typically end up playing the other way, but my experiences don't match up to either of those definitions very well.

Lorsa
2016-04-22, 11:46 AM
I am disappointed to see you back to calling anything that is not the DM's "plot/plan/story" "random." Because improvisation, as we've discussed, is not inherently random.

By your logic, if the PCs walk into a tavern and don't stick to a specified script, the NPCs saying anything that the DM hadn't written down verbatim is "random." So if the PCs attack the bartender by stabbing him, and he says "ow," him saying "ow" was "random," according to your apparent logic. Not, you know, a reasonable verbal outburst for having been stabbed. Similarly, "You jerks!" and "why would you do that!?" are random, not, again, reasonable improvisations based on the situation. Calling for help, too, is "random," because it's not to be expected that a civilian being attacked by thugs would cry out for help. It's "random," too, when a patrol of city guards (pre-established in the DM's notes to include 4 people with specified stats) show up in response to the loud cries for help.

Since neither Darth Ultron's, nor any other DM's life follow a specific pre-planned script, we can only conclude that all actions and decisions taken by Darth Ultron and everyone else are inherently random, therefore all games are random. Since random applied to all games, it is not a good qualifier to differentiate between different games, especially not railroading vs. no railroading.

OldTrees1
2016-04-22, 12:01 PM
Since neither Darth Ultron's, nor any other DM's life follow a specific pre-planned script, we can only conclude that all actions and decisions taken by Darth Ultron and everyone else are inherently random, therefore all games are random. Since random applied to all games, it is not a good qualifier to differentiate between different games, especially not railroading vs. no railroading.

Nope, try again. :smalltongue: When critiquing someone like Darth Ultron you are held to a higher standard than them. Darth would just reply "It doesn't matter if the cause of a script was random, a script is railroading not random" (I think my English->Darth translation worked :smalltongue:).

Darth's definition of "random" is crazy and harmful to his ability to understand the situation, but it is a consistent distinction (although we here would call it Tyrant and EverythingElse because he includes an awful lot of railroading inside his category he dubs "random").

Lorsa
2016-04-22, 12:25 PM
Sure, I guess if the way Gary or a couple other people you know know played one way that must mean something to the untold millions who have played the game right?

Considering you brought up early D&D and how it was played (and the role of the DM), I think Gary is extremely relevant. I mean, if he didn't play that way, it can only mean the other way you are describing is the one that is "anti-D&D".




The co-DM idea is pretty clear, I'm not sure where you don't see it.

Normal game: DM makes up and controls everything and makes out a plot/plan/story. A player might randomly say ''this would be cool or I'd like this'', but it's utterly meaningless. Though the DM can, of course, use the players suggestion if they want too.

The other game: The DM makes up random stuff. The players then interact with the stuff, a random and the players make outright demands of ''I want this or that'' and the DM willing rolls over and says ''ok-day'' and makes whatever the players tell him to do.

You do know that nobody agrees with you with what is a "normal game"?

To most of us a "normal game" = The DM controls the world, and the players control the actions of their characters within that world.

After that, there isn't a THE other game, there are many different games, ranging from the DM controls everything, including the actions of the PCs, to there isn't a DM at all.

OldTrees1
2016-04-22, 12:34 PM
Considering you brought up early D&D and how it was played (and the role of the DM), I think Gary is extremely relevant. I mean, if he didn't play that way, it can only mean the other way you are describing is the one that is "anti-D&D".


You do know that nobody agrees with you with what is a "normal game"?

To most of us a "normal game" = The DM controls the world, and the players control the actions of their characters within that world.

After that, there isn't a THE other game, there are many different games, ranging from the DM controls everything, including the actions of the PCs, to there isn't a DM at all.

Perhaps Darth is unaware of Mr Gygax's first name?

Good arguments, both of them!

Cluedrew
2016-04-22, 01:38 PM
Whitewolf, GRUPS, Star Wars(ye old west ends game d6), Toon, Savage worlds, Robotech, Marvel Super Heros, and, um, is Traveler the one where ''the computer is your friend?"Right, and because of the comment Brookshw made I feel I should explain why I asked this question. It is not because I feel D&D is particularly "railroady" or that what Darth Ultron is saying only makes sense coming from someone who has only played D&D. Rather it was a thought brought on by the way he refers everything back to D&D. For instance I usually use the term GM (because it is the generic term, and this is a system agnostic topic) while he uses the term DM (which as far as I know is only used by Dungeons and Dragons).

Any yes Brookshw, I usually quoteXOR bold names. I did both in that post because... it was a mistake. Must have been tired a the time.

Mordar
2016-04-22, 02:10 PM
Right, and because of the comment Brookshw made I feel I should explain why I asked this question. It is not because I feel D&D is particularly "railroady" or that what Darth Ultron is saying only makes sense coming from someone who has only played D&D. Rather it was a thought brought on by the way he refers everything back to D&D. For instance I usually use the term GM (because it is the generic term, and this is a system agnostic topic) while he uses the term DM (which as far as I know is only used by Dungeons and Dragons).

Apropos of little, I used to use DM almost all the time and it is simply because of when I started playing, I think. I do use GM much more now, but only because I have made an effort to be more system-agnostic and writing more about games than speaking about them has really helped me make the transition.

- M

Darth Ultron
2016-04-22, 05:31 PM
I am disappointed to see you back to calling anything that is not the DM's "plot/plan/story" "random." Because improvisation, as we've discussed, is not inherently random.


Yes, ''everyone'' did choose to say that improvisation is not random, just so they would not be ''wrong'' or something. And everyone seems to think ''improvisation'' is ''exactly like when the DM has a plan/plot/story'' anyway, they just ''say'' they don't have one for some reason.

Normal game: The DM makes the Elf Tribe of Whitewolf, and has a couple paragraphs describing them. So the DM can base what the elves do of that description and has a pre made encounter to fit them into the plot/paln/story as they are a part of it.

Other game: DM has a random stack of randomly made stuff, maybe a paragraph? When the DM on a whim feels like having a non-encounter they simply, suddenly pick something from the pile and just have it be there. They the DM just has whatever they picked do whatever they want as they just ''improvise'' or something.



Hmmm. I don't recall having a point I was trying to get at, but oh well. I guess it was that I DM one way, and typically end up playing the other way, but my experiences don't match up to either of those definitions very well.

Like most posts people use buzz words like ''collaboration'' as it sounds hip and cool to them, but they really don't mean what they are saying.



You do know that nobody agrees with you with what is a "normal game"?

To most of us a "normal game" = The DM controls the world, and the players control the actions of their characters within that world.

Lets note example A here. Ok, so a normal game is ''The DM controls the world, and the players control the actions of their characters within that world''. But, everyone also puts the players high up on a pedestal and says they collaborate and create a shared game world together with the DM.....buy just being a player in the DM's game. See how that does not fit?

See if it is ''collaboration'' then everything like the power is shared and it's not the classic ''DM runs everything and the players just play'', it's something else.

Mordar
2016-04-22, 06:12 PM
See if it is ''collaboration'' then everything like the power is shared and it's not the classic ''DM runs everything and the players just play'', it's something else.

Collaboration requires exactly equal participation/input/value from all parties? Anything less than fully equal participation means the effort is not collaborative? And does this definition work across all things, not just RPGs?

- M

Cluedrew
2016-04-22, 09:28 PM
Lets note example A here. Ok, so a normal game is ''The DM controls the world, and the players control the actions of their characters within that world''. But, everyone also puts the players high up on a pedestal and says they collaborate and create a shared game world together with the DM.....buy just being a player in the DM's game. See how that does not fit?I like the metaphor of a play here. What has a larger effect on a play: the actors or the props? (Although the GM also gets to control the extras.)

Also in my experience improve games don't work out like your "other game". First of because the GM will sometimes come to the table with nothing but system materials (note that this is in a system where you don't have to create stat blocks for encounters). Secondly they rarely do things "randomly"* or "on a whim" but instead simply work out what the natural continuation of what happened before. Or when they see an opening through something unpleasant at the players, because that is how they roll. Those aren't random either through, there is always "an opening".

*Although I suppose it isn't completely deterministic either.

SirBellias
2016-04-22, 10:03 PM
Like most posts people use buzz words like ''collaboration'' as it sounds hip and cool to them, but they really don't mean what they are saying.


Allow me to clarify what I was trying to say. I meant everything I said about collaboration. The two styles I have played and GMd match up very well to my definitions, they just don't match up to the two positions on the continuum that you pointed out earlier. They are definitely somewhere in between "the players make a suggestion or two and then be silent and play" and "the players are CO-DM's making up the world as they go along even more so than the DM."

Also, I think what I was saying at first was that I saw a large portion of the games I'm in (as a player) being like the games you describe, and then I went on a tangent about the games I run (as a GM) being different, and preferable to me. The games my friends run are planned a lot like the way you describe yours, except they're more open to the idea of changing their plan if it makes more sense to include some things, or it sounds more interesting to use a different idea. They're a blast to play in, and they work a lot better in practice than it would seem in theory. The GM is able to go off book if we have an idea he hasn't thought of, but most of the time he knows out characters well enough to plan around their motives. If we have other ideas, he'll accommodate them, with a warning that he hasn't prepared as much in that direction, and that's always fine with us.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-23, 04:21 PM
I like the metaphor of a play here. What has a larger effect on a play: the actors or the props? (Although the GM also gets to control the extras.)

I guess your fishing for the ''people are special snowflakes'' and ''props are just meaningless stuff'', but then I guess it depends on what ''effect'' your talking about too.




Also in my experience improve games don't work out like your "other game". First of because the GM will sometimes come to the table with nothing but system materials (note that this is in a system where you don't have to create stat blocks for encounters).

Right, been over this, sometimes DM's randomly make up random things on the spot. There is no railroad as there is no plot/plan/story, just random stuff.



Secondly they rarely do things "randomly"* or "on a whim" but instead simply work out what the natural continuation of what happened before. Or when they see an opening through something unpleasant at the players, because that is how they roll. Those aren't random either through, there is always "an opening".

Ok, but if the DM has notes, previous adventure logs or knowledge, plans, plots, storylines and such.....then the DM does not ''come to the table with nothing but system materials''.

So

1.DM comes to the game with an adventure ready
2.DM comes to the game with nothing
3.DM comes to the game with a pile of random stuff, but no adventure, but does have a plot/plan/story...though this Dm says ''he brings nothing to the table'' (and he lies).

OldTrees1
2016-04-23, 05:19 PM
Ok, but if the DM has notes, previous adventure logs or knowledge, plans, plots, storylines and such.....then the DM does not ''come to the table with nothing but system materials''.

So

1.DM comes to the game with an adventure ready
2.DM comes to the game with nothing
3.DM comes to the game with a pile of random stuff, but no adventure, but does have a plot/plan/story...though this Dm says ''he brings nothing to the table'' (and he lies).

You seem bad at math. Let's fill in those gaps:

1.DM comes to the game with an adventure ready
2.DM comes to the game with a world ready
3.DM comes to the game with both a world and an adventure ready
2 4.DM comes to the game with nothing
[B]This list can keeps doubling in length for each thing you forgot, but let's only continue with the toggles you mentioned in your "3rd".
5-8.DM comes with stuff from 1-8 but also with a pile of pregenerated content for random tables
9-16.DM comes with the stuff from 1-16 but also with a plot/plan/story
17-32.DM comes with the stuff from 1-32 but "this Dm says ''he brings nothing to the table'' (and he lies)*."
3 32.DM comes to the game with a pile of random stuff, but no adventure, but does have a plot/plan/story...though this Dm says ''he brings nothing to the table'' (and he lies).
*Well except for #20 where that statement is true rather than a lie, and most of those others are true to the spirit of the statement even if not to the literal meaning.

Rather simple math. I am surprised even you could get it this wrong. Seriously attempting to pass off 32 cases as if it were merely 3? That is your worst lie yet.

Cluedrew
2016-04-23, 07:17 PM
I guess your fishing for the ''people are special snowflakes'' and ''props are just meaningless stuff'', but then I guess it depends on what ''effect'' your talking about too.I don't know what the first part of that sentence means, you will have to elaborate. As for what effect means I mean how you can change the series of events that happen during the game, an informal measure of the variety of different ways the game can progress (taking into account both number of and the difference between the paths).


Ok, but if the DM has notes, previous adventure logs or knowledge, plans, plots, storylines and such.....then the DM does not ''come to the table with nothing but system materials''.I was not counting intangible materials, like previous experience or skill (which the GM did bring), but they did not bring plans, plots or storylines. The campaign had a premise but the entire group made the setting as the session begin. The plot was based on one of the character's backstory. And that was the player's second character, they through the first one out because it didn't fit with the rest of the group (or rather it fit too well?).

So I can assure you the GM did not come to the table with everything planned out. If you want to call that random let me tell you, I know some really awesome random story generators.

goto124
2016-04-23, 10:00 PM
For instance I usually use the term GM (because it is the generic term, and this is a system agnostic topic) while he uses the term DM (which as far as I know is only used by Dungeons and Dragons).

I flip-flop between the two terms a lot, because of all the time I spend here!

Lorsa
2016-04-24, 05:45 AM
Lets note example A here. Ok, so a normal game is ''The DM controls the world, and the players control the actions of their characters within that world''. But, everyone also puts the players high up on a pedestal and says they collaborate and create a shared game world together with the DM.....buy just being a player in the DM's game. See how that does not fit?

See if it is ''collaboration'' then everything like the power is shared and it's not the classic ''DM runs everything and the players just play'', it's something else.

I still haven't quite figured out what you mean by "the players just play".

If the players are able to control their characters, they can change the game world with those actions.

For example, if they kill NPC X, then that NPC is dead, so the world is clearly different. Furthermore, if the DM had planned for NPC X being the starting point for adventure Y, then the plot is ALSO changed. In this way, both the world and the story is a "collaboration" between the DM and the players, EVEN in a normal game.

themaque
2016-04-24, 08:56 AM
DU has been fairly consistent on his views on running a game, players, and the role o a GM in general. Just don't engage.


NOW THEN:
My personal use of the word "Railroading" is a particular style of Linear Storytelling gone bad. (duh duh duuuuh) That the GM is so set on not just a destination but on the route the players MUST take. You have no choice, you have no illusion of choice, you are just taking part in the GM's storytime.

Example: The GM wants the villain we are facing this week to be a recurring villain. He wants us emotionally invested in hunting him down. So during the combat, we chase him into a mine shaft. Now this is the villains actual fall back position. He has a way out and a trap laid out for us. At this point, it's standard linear story telling.

But we don't WANT to follow him into the mine. That sounds DANGEROUS. Why not SEAL the mine? Destroy some supports, or throw something explosive or start a fire or something instead of heading inside. This is where we start to see the rails, Because there is an excuse for every reason NOT to go into the mine.

Now many are legitimate REASONS why we can't follow through on the plans. The explosive idea was half cocked but the strained and ever more forceful responses from the GM every time we resisted showed we didn't have a choice. We WOULD go into that mine.

And when we got there? Trap and the villain escaped. We where FORCED into a situation we didn't want to go into and then had any sort of resolution stolen from us.

That's, in my mind, textbook railroading. The destination and the path where pre-ordained.

Now GOOD linear storytelling is more like a series of roads in my opinion. Player choices allows for people to go where and how they want down the lane. Take a side alley, take the express way, or just back roads.

What makes it linear storytelling is the players and the GM have an agreement on the end destination. If the GM does his job with open comunication everyone should have a reason for wanting to get there. Be it personal character drive (I will hunt down my fathers killer), outside influence (These people will kill me if we don't stop them first!), or just greed (Loot, XP, Game & Glory) everyone is headed to the same place.

Destination can change even, but so long as the narrative and player agency aren't invalidated than this isn't bad. This is what some people call "GOOD Railroading".

So the SOURCE of my definition Railroading is complicated. Insecurity and poor communication are foremost. The RESPONSE is communication, trust, and practice. With so many different Gm's, Groups, Styles, and systems, you won't have a "THIS works and THIS doesn't" that fits everyone but a muddy grey sliding scale.

Cluedrew
2016-04-24, 10:14 AM
This post gave me some trouble, as it took me a while to figure out what I was trying to say. But I thing I got it.

I've actually played in the sorts of games themaque describes. They aren't bad, I quite enjoyed them. But looking back the mentality was quite similar to playing Computer RPGs. We didn't have to be railroaded because we expected a series of various arrows to point us along the plot. So we went out, found the arrows the GM had prepared earlier and went on our merry ways.

On the other hand I've also played some much more improvisational games that didn't use this system. And those games were fun too.

I've mentioned my definition of railroading before: Forcing the players along a pre-determined path.

Railroading often comes when the GM has a CRPG style game planned but the players are expecting an improvisation or sandbox style game. There are other ways but to me this is the archetypical source. Doesn't always have to be on the campaign level, can occur at the ark or scene level as well.

The solution: Make sure that people are expecting the same sort of game. How you do that is a little bit more complicated. Of course you do not have to pick one of those two. There are other options and lots of places in the middle.

That is my latest opinion on the matter.

Segev
2016-04-24, 11:01 AM
Yes, ''everyone'' did choose to say that improvisation is not random, just so they would not be ''wrong'' or something. And everyone seems to think ''improvisation'' is ''exactly like when the DM has a plan/plot/story'' anyway, they just ''say'' they don't have one for some reason. Or, as people have actually said, they know enough about their world to determine that the Baron reacts to insolence with laughter. The Baron's specific reaction will depend on how the PCs are insolent, but the DM knows the Baron's instinct is to be amused, and improvises based on that.

"Random" would be deciding to have the Baron order a peasant to dance a jig or decide to walk off and play cards or any number of other possibly nonsensical actions which have nothing to do with the Baron's personality and the PCs' actions.


Normal game: The DM makes the Elf Tribe of Whitewolf, and has a couple paragraphs describing them. So the DM can base what the elves do of that description and has a pre made encounter to fit them into the plot/paln/story as they are a part of it.

Other game: DM has a random stack of randomly made stuff, maybe a paragraph? When the DM on a whim feels like having a non-encounter they simply, suddenly pick something from the pile and just have it be there. They the DM just has whatever they picked do whatever they want as they just ''improvise'' or something.The "normal game" involves improvisation, and lacks railroading if the players can choose how to react and even avoid or alter the encounter by their choices. The planned portion of the encounter could be as limited as "the innkeeper has this problem she needs solved, and will ask the PCs to help if she realizes they might be able to."

How that plays out involves a lot of improvisation. The PCs' acts will change the tone and timing and manner of the discussion, and could even determine if the innkeeper thinks it a good idea to talk to them about it.

All improv. Not random, because it is based on co text and the situation presented by how the PCs' have interacted with the elves as the scenes progressed.

Darth Ultron
2016-04-24, 01:11 PM
You seem bad at math. Let's fill in those gaps:


Rather simple math. I am surprised even you could get it this wrong. Seriously attempting to pass off 32 cases as if it were merely 3? That is your worst lie yet.

You seem bad at math, and many other things. Your um ''math'' does not even make common sense.

It's really simple: the DM comes to the table with a premade plot/plan/story/adventure....or they do not. There is no gray area and no middle ground.


As for what effect means I mean how you can change the series of events that happen during the game, an informal measure of the variety of different ways the game can progress (taking into account both number of and the difference between the paths).

so your trying to say the Pc's might have some effect on events in the game? Ok.




So I can assure you the GM did not come to the table with everything planned out. If you want to call that random let me tell you, I know some really awesome random story generators.

Right

1.Sandbox
2.''Improvised''
3.Pre-made Adventure

Now note both 2 and 3 have plot/plans/stories, so both 2 and 3 needs to have railroads and/or reverse railroads(aka quantum ogres).

And a normal game mixes 2 and 3 (a sandbox is not a normal game). A good game needs a lot of number three, pre made things. Number two is nice, but it's like junk food...all fluff and on substance. Though, sure, some folks think number two is the ''best ever super awesome''. The truth is that anything of any complexity above ''dumb and simple'' takes time to do. No DM can whip out a hugely complex and detailed encounter in ten seconds, it is simply not humanly possible.




I still haven't quite figured out what you mean by "the players just play".

If the players are able to control their characters, they can change the game world with those actions.

For example, if they kill NPC X, then that NPC is dead, so the world is clearly different. Furthermore, if the DM had planned for NPC X being the starting point for adventure Y, then the plot is ALSO changed. In this way, both the world and the story is a "collaboration" between the DM and the players, EVEN in a normal game.

This is not a good example of a ''collaboration'', as if your playing a normal game the DM controls everything. So, in fact, the DM can have the NPC come back from the dead in lots of ways. It's not as if the players take the action of killing the NPC and the DM is forced to say ''darn''.

In a normal game the DM can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Some DM's must ''walk a line'' as they have jerk players, but that is a separate problem of the DM having jerk players to start with. So when the PC's destroy a house, the players just go all jerk crazy when the Pc's come back mouths later and find the house there in the same spot(the jerk players would demand that common sense things like ''rebuilding a house'' are impossible as everything thier Pc's do must be final and forever).

OldTrees1
2016-04-24, 02:31 PM
You seem bad at math, and many other things. Your um ''math'' does not even make common sense.

It's really simple: the DM comes to the table with a premade plot/plan/story/adventure....or they do not. There is no gray area and no middle ground.


You talked about 5 different binary toggles. (these were grabbed explicitly from your post)
1) Premade World or no premade world
2) Premade Adventure or no premade adventure
3) Stack of premade stuff for random encounters or no stack of premade stuff for random encounters
4) Premade plot/plan/story or no premade plot/plan/story
5) Claims to have brought nothing or does not claim to have brought nothing

1.DM comes to the game with an adventure ready
2.DM comes to the game with nothing
3.DM comes to the game with a pile of random stuff, but no adventure, but does have a plot/plan/story...though this Dm says ''he brings nothing to the table'' (and he lies).

So how many distinct states can we create with 5 binary toggles? Hint it is 2^5 (or 32 if you struggle with exponents)

PS: Technically in reality those are all Scalars rather than Booleans. However I figured using your oversimplified binary toggles was the strongest refutation of you silly position.

Lorsa
2016-04-24, 02:40 PM
This is not a good example of a ''collaboration'', as if your playing a normal game the DM controls everything. So, in fact, the DM can have the NPC come back from the dead in lots of ways. It's not as if the players take the action of killing the NPC and the DM is forced to say ''darn''.

In a normal game the DM can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Some DM's must ''walk a line'' as they have jerk players, but that is a separate problem of the DM having jerk players to start with. So when the PC's destroy a house, the players just go all jerk crazy when the Pc's come back mouths later and find the house there in the same spot(the jerk players would demand that common sense things like ''rebuilding a house'' are impossible as everything thier Pc's do must be final and forever).

Yes, the players SHOULD demand common sense things. And the DM should follow common sense. In a normal game, the DM can't do whatever they want, whenever they want. Those are signs of a jerk DM, and they typically find their tables very empty indeed.

Indeed houses can be rebuilt. Both players and DM are bound by the "common sense" or "verisimilitude" rule if you may.

So yeah, unless there's a good reason why the NPC would come back, the DM IS forced to say "darn". That's the most basic rule of roleplaying games, D&D included.

Cluedrew
2016-04-24, 04:32 PM
Now note both 2 and 3 have plot/plans/stories, so both 2 and 3 needs to have railroads and/or reverse railroads(aka quantum ogres).This entire debate (or the recent part of it) is about the leap you make around the comma. I believe that having a plot/plan/story does not require a railroad and a lot of other people seem to be of a similar opinion. Also yes, math starts departing from common sense after a while.

Milo v3
2016-04-24, 07:59 PM
1.Sandbox
2.''Improvised''
3.Pre-made Adventure

Now note both 2 and 3 have plot/plans/stories, so both 2 and 3 needs to have railroads and/or reverse railroads(aka quantum ogres).
You know, I'd love to hear how my game "magically" uses railroads since my current game isn't a sandbox.