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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Apr 2013
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    Default DH hints and tips

    Hi,

    I started up a group at the back end of last year then for reasons across the group it was put to one side. I am now starting it back up again, however, as it was the first time that I was GM-ing I felt like i was pushing my characters to what the story entitled. How do you get over this and let them do what they want to but still guide them to the right outcome...and how do you motivate them if they don't seem to have an idea of what to do or where to start?

    Thanks for your help in advance

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: DH hints and tips

    The obvious solution is to not have a 'right' outcome. The PCs may win, lose or ignore a particular plot altogether. This is possible to do if you get the players to tell you, either between sessions or at the end of each, what they intend to do next time. Whatever they want to do, you plan for.
    You also need to have plenty of hooks in the water, so the players have something to choose from. Sometimes they may come up with their own hooks, which is nice.
    Oh, and every now and again you throw something at them they're forced to deal with, because that's life. Assassination attempt, raid on the town they're in, attempted theft, etc.

    Well, that's my way, at least.
    My D&D 5th ed. Druid Handbook

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default Re: DH hints and tips

    Okay, I think I have some hints and tips that may help you out:
    1. The rule of three: you may have heard of this rule in particular in relation to mystery campaigns but I think it applies elsewhere as well. If your players can't tell how to proceed in games, the tradition would seem to be putting three indications of some sort out in the world so players are likely to notice and act on at least one. Less risks having them overlooked entirely and more might make players feel as though they are on rails rather than figuring things out for themselves but 3 seems like a nice number.
    2. My other rule of three: Along a similar line of thought, I would put no more than three hooks to a single mission, no matter how vital it may be to the story or the world. If players are doing all in their power to avoid a mission or region or some sort of hook you are giving them, don't be afraid to toss out all of your work for that mission and instead expand upon what players ARE doing. With that said, there is one way to get people to react to your story if something is very central...
    3. Have consequences: While forcing players to do a mission they aren't interested in may be seen as railroading, having the consequences of NOT doing that mission play out seem fair from what I've heard. If they don't protect a caravan, the ambassador is attacked in mid-trip and a war breaks out between two nations. If players choose to ignore the obviously dangerous cult of Jubilex in town, oozes may start swarming out of the sewers and the party may become more inclined to do something about it. With that said, there are two exceptions to this advise. First, don't use it for adventures the fate of the world (or similarly huge stakes) relies on. Secondly, if your adventure hook was deliberately vague or deceptive, don't make the players think it's their fault when wererats take over the city just because they didn't investigate vague rumors on big rats in the sewers. You are free to have the wererats take over and to treat the rumors as retroactive foreshadowing but never try to pin blame on the players/characters.
    4. Have detours and story intermissions planned: Giving out a flurry of plot-hooks all for one quest in a row and having story mission after story mission might make players feel as though they are at the mercy of the plot. Feel free to plan out a few non-story encounters or adventures for each community and large area of exploration the players find themselves in. These moments need not be useless, however, and may serve any number of purposes such as introducing important NPCs early or memorable but unimportant NPCs, expanding upon the backstories or personal goals of your players, flesh out the world, or provide a bit of foreshadowing. As useful as these moments may be, however, remember that they are inherently optional so try not to make any of them too vital. As a bonus, these encounters give you a bit of a buffer if players do something you hadn't planned on or ignore a big quest so you aren't forced to make up an adventure on the spot.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Dallas, TX
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    Default Re: DH hints and tips

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    The obvious solution is to not have a 'right' outcome.
    That sounds so reasonable in theory. But in practice, if a mad wizard wants to destroy the world, or a necromancer wants to kill everyone to be his zombies, then the "right" outcome is that he fails to do so

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    The PCs may win, lose or ignore a particular plot altogether. This is possible to do if you get the players to tell you, either between sessions or at the end of each, what they intend to do next time. Whatever they want to do, you plan for.
    This implies that there are no possible consequences are in not acceptable to you, and that it's OK if the princess is eaten by the dragon, or the kingdom plunged into never-ending war, or that the genocide continue.

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    Oh, and every now and again you throw something at them they're forced to deal with, because that's life. Assassination attempt, raid on the town they're in, attempted theft, etc.
    There you go. If a possible adventure is an assassination attempt on a PC, then the "right" outcome is that it fail.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    king.com's Avatar

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    Nov 2006
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default Re: DH hints and tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    That sounds so reasonable in theory. But in practice, if a mad wizard wants to destroy the world, or a necromancer wants to kill everyone to be his zombies, then the "right" outcome is that he fails to do so.
    You say this but if hes actually talking about Dark Heresy. Stopping him isn't a "right" outcome. I believe a Nurgle Plague Zombie army/cult overrunning a planet would be just another day in warhammer 40k. Plus if it becomes a planet fortress of zombies, you've just given yourself a buffer for that Tyranid Hive fleet coming towards you. Needs of the many and all that

    Not sure if your familiar with it or not but literally all your examples are things that are not a big deal in Dark Heresy.
    Last edited by king.com; 2013-04-04 at 11:38 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: DH hints and tips

    @ Jay_R: The solution is, then, to save the mad wizard and his world destruction for the last adventure of the campaign. You also avoid jaded players that save the world so often they've stopped caring.
    When I said you want to avoid a 'right' outcome, it means making different adventures from the ones where you need a specific outcome.
    In the case of the assassination attempt, usually the 'right' outcome is that the PCs defeat the assassins and track their employer and end him/her/it. But you can make the adventure far more open than that.
    Obviously, the challenge shouldn't be overwhelming, that's just not fun. What you throw at the players shouldn't be harder than what they usually encounter. But the PCs might try to flee from the assassins, bribe them, hire them to go after their former employer, move to a different town after the attack, or whatever they can think of. You just have to place the assassination attempt near the end of the session, so the players afterwards can decide their course of action after the assassination encounter, and you can plan for it.
    There's nothing wrong with having a 'right' outcome to an encounter, a session or a story arc. But if there is one for most encounters, most sessions and all arcs, players don't get the freedom that OP is worried about giving them, because they must stick with the story to get to the next part.

    Quote Originally Posted by jordan2208 View Post
    how do you motivate them if they don't seem to have an idea of what to do or where to start?
    The players or PCs need something in front of them to get going. A map is often a good thing, since it shows you where things are, but not always exactly what those things are. Instant mystery with an obvious way to start solving it.
    Have something happen near them or to them. A cart overturning or needing a wheel change, a pickpocket spotted doing his stuff to an NPC, a signpost indicating the directions to the Ruins of Nekarr and the Village of Hommlet. Someone putting up a wanted poster. NPCs complaining about high prices, and the merchant saying it's because he had to hire so many mercenaries to get him through safe.
    You can pick something from a PC backstory if possible to draw them in and reward them for having a backstory in the first place.
    Last edited by hymer; 2013-04-05 at 03:12 AM.
    My D&D 5th ed. Druid Handbook

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Dallas, TX
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    Default Re: DH hints and tips

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    There's nothing wrong with having a 'right' outcome to an encounter, a session or a story arc. But if there is one for most encounters, most sessions and all arcs, players don't get the freedom that OP is worried about giving them, because they must stick with the story to get to the next part.
    OK. I don't think we disagree. I'm not as adamant in one direction as I sounded, and you're not as adamant in the other direction as you sounded.

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