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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

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    Default Tethering the players?

    Not to put too fine a point on it, consider this example and extrapolate it as a generality:

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    Say that you like the type of subplot that involves a character following around a mysterious, fascinating individual. However, you can't ensure that the players will follow along with that sort of scenario, either out of disinterest or not realizing what they're 'supposed' to be doing. One solution is to have it happen to another npc that the players are required to interact with, and hope they end up engaged in the issue through it.

    So instead of:

    Mysterious girl: Hey protagonists, I'm so mysterious and fascinating, follow me and plot will ensue!

    You have:

    Young man: Oh hey protagonists, what's up? I'm about to go see this interesting young woman I met the other day. There's something mysterious about her, I wonder what it could be?


    Some would say that it's too risky, that it'll take too much attention away from the players importance. Do you have any suggestions as to how to tether the players just enough without making your campaign about the tetherer?
    I do, however, wonder what the poor strawman ever did to you. - Kish

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Have the mysterious stranger be the BAD kind of mysterious.

    "Hey party, I heard that there's a mysterious girl in town!"
    *Speaker is never seen again, party ignores the hook*

    "Hey, I wonder what happened to Ralph? He was last seen at this bar, did you guys see him?"

    *Speaker is never seen again, party may still ignore the hook*

    Sherrif: "A couple folks have been going missing, and everyone says they spoke to YOU last. Come on down to my Otyugh hole, I've got a free feat for you"

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Totally Guy's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Is this an existing campaign or a totally new one?

    Who are the player characters?
    Mannerism RPG An RPG in which your descriptions resolve your actions and sculpts your growth.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Frankly, the idea strikes me as DMPC-ing / Mary Sue-ing. The DM wants to play a "mysterious, fascinating" character and wants to players to be the choir who follow it around and go "Ooh! Aah! How mysterious and fascinating! I'd much rather watch this mysterious and fascinating character do things than play the game!" I think the DM should just come up with an actual adventure for the game and write fan fiction of the mysterious and fascinating person in their spare time.

    I mean no offense, but this is what it comes across as.
    "I had thought - I had been told - that a 'funny' thing is a thing of goodness. It isn't. Not ever is it funny to the person it happens to. Like that sheriff without his pants. The goodness is in the laughing. I grok it is a bravery... and a sharing... against pain and sorrow and defeat."

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Gotta agree with Premier on this, if the players are unwilling to follow some preconceived plot then you shouldn't railroad them into it. Better just demand a backstory from all of their characters and make a story that ties them all together via their backstory.
    Then during that story there will be opportunities to involve your own plot somehow.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    Gotta agree with Premier on this, if the players are unwilling to follow some preconceived plot then you shouldn't railroad them into it. Better just demand a backstory from all of their characters and make a story that ties them all together via their backstory.
    Then during that story there will be opportunities to involve your own plot somehow.
    I agree tieing together backstories is the best way to motivate the party to do something outside promising them fat loot. But that doesn't mean you still can't use this NPC simply tweak the character to apply to the groups backstories like perhaps your Ranger is out for revenge against your stranger for killing his father or something.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    I dont know how you might feel about this, but is it possible to pull one of your PC's off to the side and have that person be the mysterious individual? Give them your idea. Then have your other PC's know the npc who is going to meet the mysterious PC and *boom* you have a campaign arc.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Anxe's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    It's been stated that what you're doing sounds an awful lot like a DMPC, which should be avoided. However, instead of making the DMPC the hero of the story you could make them the villain. I did it once. With the hate of DMPCs being so high, I figured they'd love to chase him down and kill him. My players went for it for awhile, but eventually they got tired of chasing him around and we just ended the campaign without a real conclusion.

    So, even with the seemingly better way of doing the DMPC it didn't work.

    But! You've asked for help, not for discouragement! I think to make the DMPC work you should give her a magical ability that improves everyone around her. That way she won't be the one who is amazing, just the people who are close to her will be. Hopefully you can lure the party with the bonus. You could also lure them with plots related to their characters (The mysterious girl is being hunted by Player A's evil twin and he has to protect her and confront his evil twin).

    I did like the idea about one of the players being the mysterious individual. I've done it successfully in the past and unsuccessfully. The separation between the two was whether the player was a regular attender to the game. So if you do it, make sure that everyone is okay with one player being more special and make sure that the player can attend most sessions.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Oracle_Hunter's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paseo H View Post
    Not to put too fine a point on it, consider this example and extrapolate it as a generality:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Say that you like the type of subplot that involves a character following around a mysterious, fascinating individual. However, you can't ensure that the players will follow along with that sort of scenario, either out of disinterest or not realizing what they're 'supposed' to be doing. One solution is to have it happen to another npc that the players are required to interact with, and hope they end up engaged in the issue through it.

    So instead of:

    Mysterious girl: Hey protagonists, I'm so mysterious and fascinating, follow me and plot will ensue!

    You have:

    Young man: Oh hey protagonists, what's up? I'm about to go see this interesting young woman I met the other day. There's something mysterious about her, I wonder what it could be?


    Some would say that it's too risky, that it'll take too much attention away from the players importance. Do you have any suggestions as to how to tether the players just enough without making your campaign about the tetherer?
    ...yeah, if your Players don't want to follow around a "mysterious, fascinating character" then that character is neither fascinating nor mysterious enough for the Players to care about. Making them follow after that guy is a bad idea.

    Likewise, I don't think you can "tether" PCs to a NPC without making the game be about said NPC. The closest I can think of is a recent game of mine where the PCs were hired to track down a NPC across a continent. I intended this quest to be no more than a way to kick off a sandbox-y game since the time limit on tracking him down was long (a year and a day) and sure enough they didn't think about tracking him down again until a Threatening Stranger booted them after the guy.

    In the end, the Players didn't give a crap about the NPC (aside from his monetary value) which was fine by me.
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    Elflad

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    In my campaign, there is plenty of DM-PCing, it's that sort of weird two person campaign where we metagame and at times seem more like chess players than DM/Player.

    In any case, there is plenty of reason for this character to be mysterious and interesting to the party:

    * She is the daughter of one of the major antagonists.
    * There are definitely questionable things in her past.

    And in fact, said daughter may well be a 'bad' kind of stranger, or at least I intend the player to think she is.

    Her mother, said major antagonist, is a cruel, borderline Complete Monster.

    I'm thinking the daughter might be someone who is good but sometimes does evil by 'mistake' as it were. And a way to make people think she's a villain like her mom is to reveal the things she's done but not the extenuating circumstances.

    But alas, that's not really what you lot were concerned about.

    Is it really railroading if the person doesn't realize it? I am all for freedom but does that mean the campaign world has to be a complete sandbox?

    Truth is, I'm fairly confident I can get him to follow her of his own will rather than trickery on my part, but I wanted advice on how to do it elegantly so I can look back on it as one of the best parts of the campaign.
    I do, however, wonder what the poor strawman ever did to you. - Kish

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Another suggestion is to have your PC's do their own thing if they don't seem interested and to have the mysterious NPC tie into their story arc at other points in the game. For example, they don't meet with her now, but later on in another town their hired to investigate a rumor about someone.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Oracle_Hunter's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paseo H View Post
    Is it really railroading if the person doesn't realize it? I am all for freedom but does that mean the campaign world has to be a complete sandbox?

    Truth is, I'm fairly confident I can get him to follow her of his own will rather than trickery on my part, but I wanted advice on how to do it elegantly so I can look back on it as one of the best parts of the campaign.
    It's up to you as the DM to know your Players. If you give them an adventure they're interested in, then there is no "trickery" involved -- you're doing your job as a DM.

    Do you know your Players? If so, do you know what they find interesting? Then all you need to do is to communicate to them that the plot-line is filled with things the PCs find interesting. There is no more elegant solution than that.
    Lead Designer for Oracle Hunter Games
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    Elflad

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    "Giving them what they want" is precisely the sort of trickery I engage in from time to time.

    In this arc of the campaign, I've included a whole subplot about a cadet who's being forced to be a guinea pig to test some drugs because I know that a similar thing from a certain anime carries some emotional torque with him.
    I do, however, wonder what the poor strawman ever did to you. - Kish

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Also, some thoughts on mysteriousness:

    Reveal some things right away, and leave other things for later, for more drama.

    Perhaps even allow them to think that what they know so far is the whole truth, only to have the rest wham them at a later time.

    In my case, my plan now is to reveal who she is, but have her personality and motives remain inscrutable for the now.
    I do, however, wonder what the poor strawman ever did to you. - Kish

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paseo H View Post
    Some would say that it's too risky, that it'll take too much attention away from the players importance. Do you have any suggestions as to how to tether the players just enough without making your campaign about the tetherer?
    Fundamentally you're trying to railroad your players. Like all railroads, the structure is inherently fragile. Adding some other dude into the equation isn't going to significantly reduce that fundamental fragility (it may even make it worse).

    There are two ways to handle this:

    (1) Stop trying to railroad your players. Dangle the hook. If they don't take it, move on. (There may be consequences for that decision, of course.)

    (2) Embrace the railroad. Dangle the hook. If the players don't take it, you can basically tell 'em: "Look, the plot lies that-a-way." Assuming the players are on the same page as you, they'll go along. (If they're not on the same page, then you know you shouldn't be trying to railroad them.)

    Check out the links for Three Clue Rule, Node-Based Scenario Design, and Don't Prep Plots in my sig.
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  16. - Top - End - #16
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Good stuff, Justin. Could definitely use some of it, like perhaps not hiding stuff.
    I do, however, wonder what the poor strawman ever did to you. - Kish

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tyndmyr's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paseo H View Post
    Not to put too fine a point on it, consider this example and extrapolate it as a generality:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Say that you like the type of subplot that involves a character following around a mysterious, fascinating individual. However, you can't ensure that the players will follow along with that sort of scenario, either out of disinterest or not realizing what they're 'supposed' to be doing. One solution is to have it happen to another npc that the players are required to interact with, and hope they end up engaged in the issue through it.

    So instead of:

    Mysterious girl: Hey protagonists, I'm so mysterious and fascinating, follow me and plot will ensue!

    You have:

    Young man: Oh hey protagonists, what's up? I'm about to go see this interesting young woman I met the other day. There's something mysterious about her, I wonder what it could be?


    Some would say that it's too risky, that it'll take too much attention away from the players importance. Do you have any suggestions as to how to tether the players just enough without making your campaign about the tetherer?
    Er, if the problem is disinterest, then you need to fix it by finding out what interests them.

    If the problem is not realizing what they were "supposed" to do...perhaps you need to better incentive things or better communicate things to them.

    Saying "you have to do this" is never mysterious or interesting. It is not particularly likely to lead to engagement either. Players become invested through participation, choice, and so forth. Not by "you gotta do this".

    This is the opposite of a solution to your problems.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    The possible problem I see here is:

    What you have is a plot hook. This is good. But do the characters have any reasons to pursue this plot hook? I didn't play in a group where all PCs would just decide to follow a person around because she's interesting. Especially if this is an ongoing campaign and they have other, more important things to do.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Ravens_cry's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tethering the players?

    Yeah, there ain't much bait on that hook.
    Going in with the notion "Here is the hook, they got to bite or we don't play" is a recipe for disaster in my opinion, though an easy one to make.
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