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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Derailing the campaign in session one

    IĒm sure most of us have done this at some point or another. Iím not talking about the players deliberately breaking the campaign or going murderhobo, Iím talking about playing the game in good faith and in the process wrecking the GMís carefully laid out plans. Technically itís possible to wreck a campaign in session zero by building a party that canít complete the campaign as written.

    My examp,e is we started a StarWars campaign. The set up was we met in a bar and then the Imperial Navy recruiters turned up and press-ganged everyone into the Navy.
    So we started a riot and made our escape. Then we worked our way to the docks and found a suitable ship to steal. After stealing the ship a large force of TIE fighters was sent to stop us, and after letting the initial attack run take down the shields we bluffed the TIE fighters into believing we were Intelligence agents and their attack was part of the show to convince the watching rebels we were genuine.
    Session ends with us hyperjumping to the outer rim, selling the stolen ship and buying another ship.
    High 5s all around and congratulating the GM on such a great start to the campaign and we canít wait for next week.

    At which point she tells us their ainít gonna be next week. Her campaign plan for session one was that we were supposed to be:
    - press-ganged,
    - get contacted by rebel spies who would sneak us out, then
    - be chipped suicide squad style
    - be given a rebel ship with an embedded tracking device
    - be sent on the first of our a series of missions which would end with us stealing the plans for the Death Star.

    We had killed the Rebel spymaster in the riot turning the rebels against us, got our records flagged by both the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Intelligence making undercover work in the Imperium nearly impossible and had acquired our own ship with a clean record..

    Sheíd spent 2 months building the campaign and we were so deep in the weeds she had no prepared material suitable to follow on from where we had ended session one. And thatís where the campaign ended.
    Last edited by Pauly; 2021-11-14 at 03:57 PM.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Sounds like a great lesson about improving communication.

    The premise of the game could be communicated better and thus get the player buy in rather than risk them blindly derailing.
    The players could have communicated how their characters would react to the lynchpins. This helps identify conflicts early.
    The player's plans could be communicated better so the GM could foresee the derailing earlier.
    The GM could have communicated the risk of exiting the campaign. For example in Curse of Strahd I told the PCs the campaign would end shortly after they gain the ability to escape Barovia.

    Well hindsight is 20/20. Have you considered switching attention to a new party of rebels that are being sent on the suicide mission because the mercenaries were not available to be chipped?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    Sounds like a great lesson about improving communication.

    The premise of the game could be communicated better and thus get the player buy in rather than risk them blindly derailing.
    The players could have communicated how their characters would react to the lynchpins. This helps identify conflicts early.
    The player's plans could be communicated better so the GM could foresee the derailing earlier.
    The GM could have communicated the risk of exiting the campaign. For example in Curse of Strahd I told the PCs the campaign would end shortly after they gain the ability to escape Barovia.

    Well hindsight is 20/20. Have you considered switching attention to a new party of rebels that are being sent on the suicide mission because the mercenaries were not available to be chipped?
    Well the campaign was sold as a Scum and Villainy setting. The twist was supposed to be getting coerced into working for the good guys, like Suicide Squad or the Dirty Dozen. We werenít trying to derail the plot, we thought we were supposed to escape from the clutches of the imperium. We broke the campaign before the initial plot twist/subversion of expectations occurred, and then we broke the GMís 3 or 4 attempts to get us back into the box.

    The GM ran it for another group and they had about a year and a half of fun before completing it.

    We started a new Traveller campaign which was supposed to be for 3 or 4 weeks to allow the GM to come up with new material, but we ended up enjoying that so much the Star Wars campaign got put on the backburner and the group never returned to it.
    Last edited by Pauly; 2021-11-14 at 08:54 PM.

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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    OP, I have an article to share for your gm to read.

    https://thealexandrian.net/wordpress...ont-prep-plots

    This is at least the second time Iíve shared that article on this site and I feel like some mad preacher, but it really did transform how I GM. The tldr is that itís possible to design scenarios without relying on the players doing a specific sequence of things - which in a RPG is something you simply canít rely on. A campaign can be a series of scenarios designed like this, instead of being planned out from the start. I would recommend your GM learn this style, then the problem you encountered in your first session can no longer happen.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    I ran a very successful Dark Heresy campaign a few years back, that derailed at what I intended to be the end of the first "chapter" of the story.

    If anyone is familiar with the TV series Alias, I based the story on the general plot of the first couple of series (main character works for their countries intelligence service, discovers the organisation is actually a terrorist cell impersonating the intelligence service, and works undercover for the real intelligence service to dismantle the organisation from the inside). Being Dark Heresy, this organisation was the 40k Inquisition. So the party were recruited by an "Inquisitor" who was in fact a traitor masquerading as one, and spent the initial first act believing they worked for the Inquisition.

    Due to the set up of the organisation (the Inquisition is big on secrets), I assigned each party member an official role (Party leader, Political officer, Technology Specialist, Psionic Specialist, etc). At the start of each mission I gave the party a general heavily-redacted briefing for the mission, and each specialist/officer an additional briefing packet relating to their specialisation. It was in these special briefing packets that I slipped the clues that their boss was sliding off into heresy, and assumed that my players would very quickly start comparing notes, spotting the lies and inconsistencies, and start piecing things together. Furthermore, the nature of the missions was deliberately brutal and at times unpleasant, and I expected an eventual revolt due to the string of assassinations, kidnappings, terrorism, theft, and industrial sabotage I was sending them off on. And finally, a couple of months in, I caused a 'chance' meeting with a genuine Inquisitorial agent, who took notice of them, and tried to intervene to reveal the truth to them of the deception.

    But to my complete surprise (my players are not normally the sort to do this) the players kept their secrets to themselves, and followed their leader like the obedient little drones the Imperium treasures. And these weren't small things - the party leader knew about a captive Daemon being used to gain illicit intelligence, the political officer had papers authorising the immediate execution of the party leader if the officer thought the leader was showing disloyalty to their Inquisitor (not the Imperium itself, just the Inquisitor), the weapon specialist knew about a cache of highly illegal xenos weaponry kept in the armoury, the Tech Preist knew the cells armourer had been saved from execution by their leader for his membership in an heretical sect that worshipped the Necrons, and the melee fighter was weilding a blessed weapon that he knew the leader was 'uncomfortable' trying to weild, so let him keep. They just shrugged off the nature of the missions, all under the belief that the "greater good" was worth the "minor" acts they were committing. And finally, they took an immediate dislike to the real Inquisitorial agent, and went out of their way to decieve and misdirect him, even deliberately leading him into near-fatal traps, under the belief he was just a jealous rival of their own leader.

    What was meant to be a 4-6 month opening act turned into a two year campaign of destruction and terror. It was kinda glorious. Eventually, I exerted enough pressure that one of the players cracked, and came to me saying he wasn't enjoying what the campaign was making his character become, and he was thinking of retiring his character and making up a more bloodthirsty character so he didn't have the moral issues with the missions - I gave him a grin and said, maybe his character should be having moral objections to the missions. It was like a light bulb went off on the player, and the dominoes started falling into their correct place finally. The looks on the players faces was priceless when they finally realised the truth, and each character started revealing the "minor" transgressions they each knew about (but were keeping from each other to prevent rocking the boat or sowing discord), which together added up to a terrible whole.

    We never ran the intended acts 2-3, because the players were agreed there was no way they were going to take this cell down slowly from inside, that their actions had let everything go on so far, and the only solution was taking the whole thing out in an spectacular display of carnage (the party were seriously out for blood and a little bit supercharged by their shame at being duped so thoroughly).

    The campaign had gone seriously off the rails, but oddly enough, became a much more memorable campaign that my players talk about fondly, and probably a much greater success than if it had stayed anywhere near the original rails.
    Last edited by Glorthindel; 2021-11-15 at 09:34 AM.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by HidesHisEyes View Post
    OP, I have an article to share for your gm to read.

    https://thealexandrian.net/wordpress...ont-prep-plots

    This is at least the second time Iíve shared that article on this site and I feel like some mad preacher, but it really did transform how I GM. The tldr is that itís possible to design scenarios without relying on the players doing a specific sequence of things - which in a RPG is something you simply canít rely on. A campaign can be a series of scenarios designed like this, instead of being planned out from the start. I would recommend your GM learn this style, then the problem you encountered in your first session can no longer happen.
    + many to this.
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    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
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    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    your dm made a mistake in planning with such detail, but especially she made a HUGE mistake when she had the whole plot depending on you getting captured.

    you can't try to capture the pcs in a roleplaying game and expect them to just go along with it. you can't build your whole plot on your pcs getting captured without figthing. if you do build your plot around that, you must make sure to bring in enough power that they have no chance to get out of the rails.

    now, your dm is not a bad one. a truly bad dm would have railroaded you guys back into being captured1. she should take it as a learning experience.

    and yes, that article is a good one. instead of preparing a plot, prepare goals. have a villain with an agenda and resources. have the villain push forward his agenda. have the players stumble upon it and start twarting it. have the villain react by using his resources to bring his agenda back on schedule. provided that the players bite on the basic premise of wanting to get involved in that plot, there's no way to derail that.

    Heck, my players just did a huge derailment when they accidentally uncovered the major villain of my campaign - by a combination of a miscommunication between us that cast suspicion on a friendly nymph, followed by a very high roll on sense motive. followed by the party assuming that said nymph would be a double agent for a big bad, trying to capture her, and seeing all their best attacks negated with ease. but it made for a very fun session, full of "oh crap" moments and improvising a way out of them.
    they managed to escape, mostly by luck
    But the campaign goes on. the crazy nymph was always supposed to be ready to destroy the nearby city. she was merely waiting until she developed better bioweapons. now that she's discovered, she decided to move on her timetable and attack the city right now. she won't have those more advanced bioweapons, though, so that's a win for the players. on the other hand, this sequence of events was not supposed to happen until the party was level 20, and they are still 12; the original plan was that this nymph had enough power to defeat the party the first time, but they would learn her special tricks and find ways to counter them, and then come back better prepared and win. Now instead the party stands no chance to stop the crazy nymph, and their mission shifts from defending the city to evacuating as much as possible from the city. After that, the villain's plan will move on slowly enough that it can be mostly ignored while i find ways for them to level up and get loot to stand a chance in a fight.
    if the party had been captured, or even killed, i had ways to bring them back too.

    i can't imagine how my party could derail a campaign in a way that could not be saved. Well, unless they decided to actually go work for the bad guys or something, or unless they screwed up completely and lost.


    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    I ran a very successful Dark Heresy campaign a few years back, that derailed at what I intended to be the end of the first "chapter" of the story.

    If anyone is familiar with the TV series Alias, I based the story on the general plot of the first couple of series (main character works for their countries intelligence service, discovers the organisation is actually a terrorist cell impersonating the intelligence service, and works undercover for the real intelligence service to dismantle the organisation from the inside). Being Dark Heresy, this organisation was the 40k Inquisition. So the party were recruited by an "Inquisitor" who was in fact a traitor masquerading as one, and spent the initial first act believing they worked for the Inquisition.

    What was meant to be a 4-6 month opening act turned into a two year campaign of destruction and terror. It was kinda glorious.
    great job fooling your players. it's always the best way to introduce a villain, when you can fool the players to mistake him for an ally. I managed it once, this guy would give them "secret information" that would point them to a quest, and in those quests they'd always find enemies to wait them - twice they lost fights and had to flee, once it even killed two party members - and they always thought their enemies were prepared and must have a mole somewhere.
    One of my favourite villains ever. in the end he got a redemption arc and helped the party (for real, this time) against the greater scope villain of the campaign. even the players like him

    Here i tried to do a repeat, and it didn't work. when attempting to fool the players, it's obviously best to prepare and alternative plan in case it doesn't work


    1) didn't i just advocated bringing in enough power that the players can't escape? isn't that the same thing? no. there is a subtle, but huge difference between "the villains moved enough resources for this that there is no chance for escape" and "by all logic you guys should escape, but i'm going to pull stuff out of my *** to bring you back". as a player, i can easily accept that the empire has plenty of troops and can easily bring enough to take no risk when they take me; it's ok, they can't always focus so many resources for a menial task, i will find chances to escape eventually. i can't instead accept the dm making stuff up on the spot to keep me on the rails.
    Last edited by King of Nowhere; 2021-11-15 at 09:52 AM.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Perhaps not a derail at session 1, but close enough.

    Last Dungeon the Dragoning campaign I ran the players through a starter mission. You know, give them a backup & out, some easy fights, work up to a hard fight, feel out how comfortable they really are with social combat, get them used to average stats succeding at average tasks. The usual stuff when doing an unfamiliar system.

    At the end of the starter mission I had a spaceship battle planned. Extremely bare bones & basic, PCs in a massively powerful ship (as officers/crew, not owners) against three fairly weak gnomish marine biologist space pirates. Thats not supposed to make sense, we were trying out bits of a new system.

    They safely kicked the ever-loving crap out of the pirates. Much more safely than I'd thought they would. The last pirate ship was crippled but not destroyed when its captain set the self destruct charges. Like, maybe 10/150+ crew, leaking air, half the guns down, etc. Since it was close enough to maybe damage their ship the players decided to teleport aboard & disarm the self destruct...

    "Ok, lets call the game for tonight and I'll have something figured out next week."

    Lucky that space combat time is "variable undefined" but generally 15-30 minutes per round. The next week I had deckplans for the '84 remodel of the USS Iowa with some bits renamed, a boss fight, miniboss, hordes of zombie minions (boss was a necromancer), and how to disarm the self destruct. They had 15 minutes of game time to dungeon crawl a damages ship & disarm or escape. They did it in 8... Ok, now they have a ship...

    Next week: Ok, now they're in jail for attempted piracy while docked at Sigil...

    Next week: Ok, now they're wearing bomb collars and in a penal battalion headed for Carceri...

    Rails? Plot? I'm the DM and I don't even have a compass or a map any more. I'm just trying to stay a session ahead of a pack of rampaging looney psycho kleptomaniacs.
    "And this, too, shall pass away."

    DtD40k7e rewrite complete.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    I played in a campaign that lasted for all of three sessions. The DM has a whole cold war era spy game planned out, and we knew what it was going into it, the basic premise had been made abundantly clear to us prior to session one.

    The problem fundamentally did not lay with the DM or his prep in any given session, it was the fact that a party of seven went into a spy thriller with nary an int score between us. The highest the party had was a 14, and it belong to the dragon wyrmling companion that got itself stuck in a vending machine.

    The party ultimately decided it was a good idea to storm the villain's super secret spy base during the night, forgo stealth, and use a breath weapon on the falcons patrolling the area. The next week we started a spelljammer campaign and the lowest int was a 14...
    Princess Battle Flower

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    At which point she tells us their ainít gonna be next week. Her campaign plan for session one was that we were supposed to be:
    - press-ganged,
    - get contacted by rebel spies who would sneak us out, then
    - be chipped suicide squad style
    - be given a rebel ship with an embedded tracking device
    - be sent on the first of our a series of missions which would end with us stealing the plans for the Death Star.
    Rookie GM mistake.

    Never give players freedom that you're not willing to let them have. (Note that I'm not in favor of railroading, quite the opposite).

    If that's what you want the campaign setup to be, have that be the pitch. Session One is the last bullet point, not the rest of the stuff.
    "Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking)"

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    In FGU's Flashing Blades, I sent some French PCs as emissaries to the Spanish Governor in the Caribbean. I had several political adventures planned, involving the governor's daughter, a slave revolt, a feud with a Spanish captain, etc.

    Within three episodes, they had captured a ship and were pirates.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    I'll just say I hate fool the players campaigns. I need to be able to trust the DM. If I can't then there's no game for me. The BBEG can be Evil all he wants, plot and maneuver. He can be the unknown mastermind of it all revealed in ACT III, but he can't have been our "friend" from the beginning. The DM is the players' eyes and ears of the gameworld. To trick the players is to be an adversary, and I loathe DM vs Players campaigns.
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    In FGU's Flashing Blades, I...

    Within three episodes, they had captured a ship and were pirates.
    What is it with PCs, ships, and piracy? They snag a ship and if there's any freedom in the plot its 7/10 times they start hunting a bigger one, 2/10 it blows up or burns down, and bloody 1/10th the time they actually do something legal & normal like travel. Sci-fi, historic, fantasy.... actually I don't know about supers games, those might well be closest to normal.
    "And this, too, shall pass away."

    DtD40k7e rewrite complete.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    What is it with PCs, ships, and piracy? They snag a ship and if there's any freedom in the plot its 7/10 times they start hunting a bigger one, 2/10 it blows up or burns down, and bloody 1/10th the time they actually do something legal & normal like travel. Sci-fi, historic, fantasy.... actually I don't know about supers games, those might well be closest to normal.
    Funny story, but that's how our spelljammer campaign began an inevitable descent to cancellation. We were "good" space pirates who had made bank on ghost rock (also left an entire train car of it in Himalayas which is now super haunted). We commissioned an enormous ship, the Silver Eagle, that could carry our previous ship, which was then blown up on its maiden voyage by splitting the party three ways during combat with a mobster and the imperium simultaneously by making a series of poor judgment calls that got 12 of our 15 NPCs killed...

    We are a good party, but we have our moments.
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    I'll just say I hate fool the players campaigns. I need to be able to trust the DM. If I can't then there's no game for me. The BBEG can be Evil all he wants, plot and maneuver. He can be the unknown mastermind of it all revealed in ACT III, but he can't have been our "friend" from the beginning. The DM is the players' eyes and ears of the gameworld. To trick the players is to be an adversary, and I loathe DM vs Players campaigns.
    By that logic, no NPC should ever lie to or deceive the PCs in any way. I can agree the GM shouldn't use their GM "powers" to trick the players but as long as there's only in-universe trickery (and not, say, the GM describing something the characters are experiencing in a inaccurate way) I don't see a problem with it. I don't see why having the NPCs lie to the PCs is any more adversarial than having the NPCs attack the PCs.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    By that logic, no NPC should ever lie to or deceive the PCs in any way. I can agree the GM shouldn't use their GM "powers" to trick the players but as long as there's only in-universe trickery (and not, say, the GM describing something the characters are experiencing in a inaccurate way) I don't see a problem with it. I don't see why having the NPCs lie to the PCs is any more adversarial than having the NPCs attack the PCs.
    I think youíre right but what Pex is getting at is also a real issue imo. Maybe I lean too hard on this as the cause of every problem but I think itís a railroading issue. The problem isnít when NPCs lie to the PCs per se, itís when the GM has a plan for the narrative that relies on the PCs being deceived, and so makes damn sure they wonít get a chance to see through the deception. And in that case, really, the problem is that the GM has a plan for the narrative at all.
    Last edited by HidesHisEyes; 2021-11-16 at 03:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by HidesHisEyes View Post
    I think youíre right but what Pex is getting at is also a real issue imo. Maybe I lean too hard on this as the cause of every problem but I think itís a railroading issue. The problem isnít when NPCs lie to the PCs per se, itís when the GM has a plan for the narrative that relies on the PCs being deceived, and so makes damn sure they wonít get a chance to see through the deception. And in that case, really, the problem is that the GM has a plan for the narrative at all.
    Well, sure. Railroading is bad, but that's true regardless of whether it's about making sure the characters are tricked, captured, killed or something else. That said, I don't think the GM having a plan for the narrative in the sense of what's probably going to happen is a problem, as long as they're okay with it going some other way and able to adapt.
    Last edited by Batcathat; 2021-11-16 at 04:49 AM.

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by HidesHisEyes View Post
    I think youíre right but what Pex is getting at is also a real issue imo. Maybe I lean too hard on this as the cause of every problem but I think itís a railroading issue. The problem isnít when NPCs lie to the PCs per se, itís when the GM has a plan for the narrative that relies on the PCs being deceived, and so makes damn sure they wonít get a chance to see through the deception. And in that case, really, the problem is that the GM has a plan for the narrative at all.
    If it referred to my case, then the fact that my players ended up unmasking the villain when they weren't supposed to shows it's not the case.

    It's less about betraying the pcs, and more about setting up hidden villains. Like, there is this important npc who's apparently a reasonable authority figure, but he's secretly a mastermind with a plan for world domination and he's only waiting for the right opportunity to start. Generally the opportunity is some kind of strife that would weaken the villain's enemies.

    I prefer to have a cohesive world with established powerful factions, and have some of them enact evil plans, rather than introduce a new villain out of nowhere and then forgetting his followers the moment they're not relevant anymore. It enables better immersion and better characterization.

    Also, the players aren't necessarily supposed to befriend those people. They represent political factions, and the pcs will have dealings with them, and those can go in many ways.
    There was only one time i intentionally made a friend (a cohort) of the pcs turn traitor; and i was planning for the pc to win npc loialty over time, so that she would not betray the party and instead help them at the critical time.
    Instead, the party did the following
    - got her killed in their first fight toghether
    - used a lower quality resurrection spell on her, making her lose a level, to save money
    - gave her sub-par equipment
    - used her as expendable meat shield
    So, she went on with the betrayal. It wasn't my original plan.
    Since then, the party was much more nice to cohorts

    The vast majority of the npcs, though, are never intended as villains and traitors. I don't want to play in a grimdark crapsack world where the pcs have to kill everyone before they are killed. Most allies will be steadfast.
    But wouldn't it be boring if every npc was always reliable?
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    By that logic, no NPC should ever lie to or deceive the PCs in any way. I can agree the GM shouldn't use their GM "powers" to trick the players but as long as there's only in-universe trickery (and not, say, the GM describing something the characters are experiencing in a inaccurate way) I don't see a problem with it. I don't see why having the NPCs lie to the PCs is any more adversarial than having the NPCs attack the PCs.
    The problem often rely on miscommunication of table conventions.

    I will take an example: a friend of mine played in a "giant LARP Clue" where there was a big deception about the murder being investigated not being actually a murder. The problem was that one of the major clues was that the same typewriter was used for two different letters. This fact was very visible because the characters had very unique irregularities. However, the players immediately though "well, obviously it's the same typewriter, the GM only owns one of them, and it's not like those are common nowadays". And when the solution was revealed at the end, the players didn't felt betrayed by the characters, they felt betrayed by the GM, as they tried to be nice with him by ignoring imperfections, and were punished because those imperfections were deliberate.

    And the same can happen for RPGs. The GM might be intending for the characters to deceive the PCs, but in the end players might feel betrayed by the GM rather than by the characters, because they assumed "obvious" table conventions that were not true.

    EDIT:
    It's like unreliable narrators in fiction. Sometimes it feels fair and it increases the depth of the story, sometimes it feels like a betrayal from the author.
    Last edited by MoiMagnus; 2021-11-16 at 05:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    EDIT:
    It's like unreliable narrators in fiction. Sometimes it feels fair and it increases the depth of the story, sometimes it feels like a betrayal from the author.
    I agree, which is why I differentiated between the GM using their GM powers to deceive the players (that is, the narration is lying to them) and NPCs using their in-universe abilities to deceive the characters (and probably their players as well).

    It's a good point about table conventions though, but in most cases I don't think this kind of plot requires breaking or subverting them. The GM is supposed to present the world as the players' characters experience it, if someone is attempting to fool the characters, it's entirely possible that the players are fooled as well even with the GM playing fair.

    Something I think should be avoided is the players seeing through the ruse but the GM insisting that their characters are still tricked (which is why tricky NPCs with social skills can be hard to handle, a lucky die roll might fool the PCs but not the players). Of course, if the players realize the truth for some OOC reason, it also doesn't make sense for their characters not to still be fooled, which might make for kind of a lose/lose situation.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    What is it with PCs, ships, and piracy?
    Adventure, swashbuckling, and rum. (To badly paraphrase Winston Churchill).
    They snag a ship and if there's any freedom in the plot its 7/10 times they start hunting a bigger one, 2/10 it blows up or burns down, and bloody 1/10th the time they actually do something legal & normal like travel. Sci-fi, historic, fantasy.... actually I don't know about supers games, those might well be closest to normal.
    I saw it work like that in original Traveller as well. We always wanted to try and upgrade our vessel ...

    speaking of pirate ships, in our first ever D&D 5e session, we took the commission to head up to yartar and vadenfal to sort out problem at an old dwarven mine and the second morning we all woke up bound in the forecastle, having been fed a roofie/mickey/poisoned wine the night before for dinner. (I was life cleric, sailor background). We ended up with that river boat as our first possession once we broke out of the forecastle and took the ship over. later in life we sold it.
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    What is it with PCs, ships, and piracy? They snag a ship and if there's any freedom in the plot its 7/10 times they start hunting a bigger one, 2/10 it blows up or burns down, and bloody 1/10th the time they actually do something legal & normal like travel. Sci-fi, historic, fantasy.... actually I don't know about supers games, those might well be closest to normal.
    There are really only three things you can do with a ship -- be a merchant (which is boring), be part of a navy (which is under some admiral's command), or piracy.

    The essence of adventuring is doing something suspenseful and dangerous on your own. Piracy is the only option with a ship that meets that goal.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    The problem often rely on miscommunication of table conventions.
    ...
    This. I'd say that the problem is not in having a deceptive NPC, but in having that NPC be the first "quest giver" type they talk to. Because in that case, the OOC convention of "players shouldn't refuse to bite the initial plot hook" is concealing the deception.


    Same issue with PCs who are secretly working against the party. I feel like unless the campaign is established to be a PvP one, they're effectively abusing the social contract to hide their deception even if IC the PCs would and should have a chance to discern it.

    The social contract there being the "Hello random person, you look trustworthy, how about joining our adventuring party?" introduction for new PCs. Like, realistically IC, it shouldn't work like that. There should be an attempt at vetting the new person, checking their references, the party votes on it (and maybe rejects them!), they start as provisional members and don't get told all the secrets, etc, etc. But all of that is a pain in the ass if the new player isn't being deceptive and actually just wants to join the party, so many groups leave it out.

    Yes, that means that IMO, if a campaign has already started with a "non-PvP" attitude, you're just not practically able to introduce a traitor character, because you'd have to announce the shift to "PvP is on the table" and the timing would be kinda obvious. Suck it up and wait for a new campaign. Or play the long game by making that statement and then introducing a totally legit character, enduring the suspicion, proving yourself, then find an opportunity to die or leave the party. Your next character after that is the deceptive one.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-11-16 at 08:26 PM.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    By that logic, no NPC should ever lie to or deceive the PCs in any way. I can agree the GM shouldn't use their GM "powers" to trick the players but as long as there's only in-universe trickery (and not, say, the GM describing something the characters are experiencing in a inaccurate way) I don't see a problem with it. I don't see why having the NPCs lie to the PCs is any more adversarial than having the NPCs attack the PCs.
    The typical king's vizier can lie to the PCs. The Mayor. The town's cleric. The guard. Whomever NPC BBEG or Lieutenant or minion the party has just met and we don't know yet is the villain for that particular adventure arc. Not the party's Patron who has been the party's ally, friend, and confidant from levels 1 to 12 or whatever high level when the Big Reveal happens.
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Rookie GM mistake.

    Never give players freedom that you're not willing to let them have. (Note that I'm not in favor of railroading, quite the opposite).

    If that's what you want the campaign setup to be, have that be the pitch. Session One is the last bullet point, not the rest of the stuff.
    Donít know why so many people think the GM was in error. Sheís a very good, very experienced GM. Itís just that the party when met with overwhelming force on 3 occasions managed to get out. She did everything possible in game to get us back on the rails. By rights the party should have been captured.

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    What is it with PCs, ships, and piracy? They snag a ship and if there's any freedom in the plot its 7/10 times they start hunting a bigger one, 2/10 it blows up or burns down, and bloody 1/10th the time they actually do something legal & normal like travel. Sci-fi, historic, fantasy.... actually I don't know about supers games, those might well be closest to normal.
    In campaigns Iíve been involved in the PCs capturing a ship leads inevitably to a mercantile campaign.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    In the case of the OP, the rook GM's mistake was to start with a session that had to unfold a certain way. Excellent session.
    Should have has session 0 starting with characters who are already caught.
    Maybe even narrate a cut scene of being processed, chipped and shown around their new ship before character gen.
    Or, less prep into the "after they get caught" bit and some thought into "what if they don't"

    Hopefully a learning experience and not discouraging future GMing
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    IĒm sure most of us have done this at some point or another. Iím not talking about the players deliberately breaking the campaign or going murderhobo, Iím talking about playing the game in good faith and in the process wrecking the GMís carefully laid out plans. Technically itís possible to wreck a campaign in session zero by building a party that canít complete the campaign as written.

    My examp,e is we started a StarWars campaign. The set up was we met in a bar and then the Imperial Navy recruiters turned up and press-ganged everyone into the Navy.
    So we started a riot and made our escape. Then we worked our way to the docks and found a suitable ship to steal. After stealing the ship a large force of TIE fighters was sent to stop us, and after letting the initial attack run take down the shields we bluffed the TIE fighters into believing we were Intelligence agents and their attack was part of the show to convince the watching rebels we were genuine.
    Session ends with us hyperjumping to the outer rim, selling the stolen ship and buying another ship.
    High 5s all around and congratulating the GM on such a great start to the campaign and we canít wait for next week.

    At which point she tells us their ainít gonna be next week. Her campaign plan for session one was that we were supposed to be:
    - press-ganged,
    - get contacted by rebel spies who would sneak us out, then
    - be chipped suicide squad style
    - be given a rebel ship with an embedded tracking device
    - be sent on the first of our a series of missions which would end with us stealing the plans for the Death Star.

    We had killed the Rebel spymaster in the riot turning the rebels against us, got our records flagged by both the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Intelligence making undercover work in the Imperium nearly impossible and had acquired our own ship with a clean record..

    Sheíd spent 2 months building the campaign and we were so deep in the weeds she had no prepared material suitable to follow on from where we had ended session one. And thatís where the campaign ended.
    Your DM made the same mistake that a lot of DM's make. You played through the intro.

    The intro is not for playing unless the DM is open to these sorts of things happening. The intro is for introducing things.

    Getting press-ganged? That's story.
    Getting contacted by spies? That's story.
    Getting chipped suicide-suqad-style? That's story.
    Getting a ship for your first mission? That's story.
    Being sent on your quest? THAT is where her game actually started.

    Everything leading up to that? That's introductory story that the DM should give you before turning over the reins and letting the players start rolling dice.

    The DM should be absolutely prepared for their game to take an immediate left-turn the moment they let players start rolling. That's not to say it will, luck and chance may conspire to make it work just as planned. The DM may be really good at making the railroad look like an open-world, the players may be really interested in the story laid out before them.

    But a lot of DMs and a lot of games make this exact mistake. They let people start playing before they actually should.
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Donít know why so many people think the GM was in error. Sheís a very good, very experienced GM. Itís just that the party when met with overwhelming force on 3 occasions managed to get out. She did everything possible in game to get us back on the rails. By rights the party should have been captured.
    because....

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff View Post
    In the case of the OP, the rook GM's mistake was to start with a session that had to unfold a certain way. Excellent session.
    Should have has session 0 starting with characters who are already caught.
    Maybe even narrate a cut scene of being processed, chipped and shown around their new ship before character gen.
    Or, less prep into the "after they get caught" bit and some thought into "what if they don't"

    Hopefully a learning experience and not discouraging future GMing
    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Your DM made the same mistake that a lot of DM's make. You played through the intro.

    The intro is not for playing unless the DM is open to these sorts of things happening. The intro is for introducing things.

    Getting press-ganged? That's story.
    Getting contacted by spies? That's story.
    Getting chipped suicide-suqad-style? That's story.
    Getting a ship for your first mission? That's story.
    Being sent on your quest? THAT is where her game actually started.

    Everything leading up to that? That's introductory story that the DM should give you before turning over the reins and letting the players start rolling dice.

    The DM should be absolutely prepared for their game to take an immediate left-turn the moment they let players start rolling. That's not to say it will, luck and chance may conspire to make it work just as planned. The DM may be really good at making the railroad look like an open-world, the players may be really interested in the story laid out before them.

    But a lot of DMs and a lot of games make this exact mistake. They let people start playing before they actually should.
    Exactly these points.
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Donít know why so many people think the GM was in error. Sheís a very good, very experienced GM. Itís just that the party when met with overwhelming force on 3 occasions managed to get out. She did everything possible in game to get us back on the rails. By rights the party should have been captured.
    When did she talk out of character to the players about the risk of ending the campaign by escaping?

    It is okay for GMs to make mistakes. Even very experienced GMs can make mistakes. In this case there was insufficient communication from both the players and the GM. That is okay. That is a learning moment.

    Next time the party escapes 2 overwhelming forces, maybe the players and GM will both initiate communication asking whether captured was vital to the campaign.

    Next time the party escapes 2 overwhelming forces, maybe the GM has a solution for how to continue the campaign even if the party avoids capture.

    Next time the party escapes 2 overwhelming forces, maybe the players start to be more transparent about their plans so the GM can better anticipate them.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2021-11-16 at 11:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    There are really only three things you can do with a ship -- be a merchant (which is boring), be part of a navy (which is under some admiral's command), or piracy.

    The essence of adventuring is doing something suspenseful and dangerous on your own. Piracy is the only option with a ship that meets that goal.
    I dunno. I started them out on a 3km long super luxury cruise liner as an elite entertainment/security/things-explode group will full medical & legal cover, hanging around some of the richest & tax evade-est people in known space, with a mysterious captain nobody has seen for 300 years. I had tons of potential trouble to throw at them there.

    They dumped that for a banged up old 150m long boat they could barely afford to repair and had to deal with leftover zombies crawling out of the plumbing. Twice. Then they tried to hijack a low end cargo ship smuggling molassis for the halfling mafia. Except it was docked at the biggest trade hub in the galaxy with serious stick-in-bum shoot-first paramilitary security forces.

    They could have gone exploring. There were literally places in the setting write-up to find lost-tech, alien-tech, super-bio-tech, ultra-magi-tech, the planet where tarasques are basically equal to turtles and the owners manual for all creation is just laying around on the ground, a star system that spawns baby space kaiju you can "farm". They did eventually do exploration. Wildly dangerous & profitable exploration. One got super rich, another got a 2km long lost-magi-tech ship will meter thick gold anti-magic hull plating. The illithid federation gave them letters of recommendation and commendation, the uber-vampire council and the cocaine wizards guild both owed them favors. Piracy? Banal.
    "And this, too, shall pass away."

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