A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    The GM's issue wasn't one of overplanning.

    I'd argue, it was in fact, a lack of planning.

    Session 1, above all others, will contain the highest number of probable outcomes. From there on out, planning far ahead is fairly simple. You've got an idea of what hooks the characters, what hooks the players, and where they're going. Since they're interested in these elements, they're more likely to see them to completion, rather than just bounce all over the board. So you can plan out what they're interested in, instead of guessing at what might catch their attention.

    Once you know where the party wants to go, planning far ahead is easy, and you won't even have to railroad, because the party WANTS to do this thing.
    Not in my experience. I might be able to rely on the players staying interested in the same broad elements long enough to plan for them, but I found that the further ahead I planned the more I had to rely on them making specific decisions on a more zoomed in level. And if they really have agency then theyíre able to make specific decisions that can alter the course I had planned. At that point I need to either find a way to shut down their decision and get them back on track, or spend hours reworking my prep between sessions (which I donít have time or energy for). So rather than do either of those things, I started constraining myself to just prepping the immediate scenario and letting go of all preconceptions about where the campaign would go - and Iíve never looked back.

  2. - Top - End - #62
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    So now I prefer: "You can trust your fellow PCs and you can trust the initial hook, and neither of those will bite you in the ass IC. After that, maybe choose more carefully." Because then at least we build up some momentum and connections before slowing down.
    I think that's fair, though I do like the addition of "initial quest givers may not be completely honest and there may be other layers to what they're doing, but they're not going to betray you."

    I also personally like getting an agreement about what hte game is "about", in broad terms, before you start playing. Then everybody knows what the game is, is on board with it, and is willing to "bite", since it's what they signed up for.

    If people sign up for "food", and you bring them a hamburger, they may or may not want to eat it. If they ordered a hamburger, you can be pretty sure they'll be willing to take a bite.

    Quote Originally Posted by HidesHisEyes View Post
    Not in my experience. I might be able to rely on the players staying interested in the same broad elements long enough to plan for them, but I found that the further ahead I planned the more I had to rely on them making specific decisions on a more zoomed in level. And if they really have agency then theyíre able to make specific decisions that can alter the course I had planned. At that point I need to either find a way to shut down their decision and get them back on track, or spend hours reworking my prep between sessions (which I donít have time or energy for). So rather than do either of those things, I started constraining myself to just prepping the immediate scenario and letting go of all preconceptions about where the campaign would go - and Iíve never looked back.
    Yup.

    I do think getting pre-game agreement on what the game is about, generally, is a good idea. But really, I find that pre-planning too much harms the enjoyment I get out of games, on both sides of the table.

    I find the best games happen when the GM's ideas and the players' ideas come together in ways that neither could imagine. Usually this is done by me through PC actions and player assumptions, rather than explicit "writer's room" type stuff, but it still happens. As a player, I want to know that the choices I make have a real impact - that another group playing from the same scenario would get a different experience, presuming they didn't make all the same choices. And from a GM's POV, I have the most fun when I don't know what's going to happen and I see events unfold.

    But to do that right (I believe) requires a lot of skills that most games don't do a very good job of teaching. (Start with - "what is a story question?", and my answer is here)
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2021-11-24 at 11:33 AM.
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  3. - Top - End - #63
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    GnomePirate

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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.
    Sounds like the GM was writing a novel instead of GMing a TTRPG. Hopefully she learns from this.
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  4. - Top - End - #64
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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post



    Yup.

    I do think getting pre-game agreement on what the game is about, generally, is a good idea. But really, I find that pre-planning too much harms the enjoyment I get out of games, on both sides of the table.

    I find the best games happen when the GM's ideas and the players' ideas come together in ways that neither could imagine. Usually this is done by me through PC actions and player assumptions, rather than explicit "writer's room" type stuff, but it still happens. As a player, I want to know that the choices I make have a real impact - that another group playing from the same scenario would get a different experience, presuming they didn't make all the same choices. And from a GM's POV, I have the most fun when I don't know what's going to happen and I see events unfold.

    But to do that right (I believe) requires a lot of skills that most games don't do a very good job of teaching. (Start with - "what is a story question?", and my answer is here)
    Yeah absolutely itís a great help to know what the campaign is going to be roughly about. I think of that as ďpremiseĒ. Eg in my current campaign we sorted out the broad strokes of the setting and the premise of ďfreelance monster-hunter teamĒ in session 0, and went from there. Everything that happens will fit that setting and premise, but within those restrictions the possibilities are still basically infinite.

    Oh and I prefer to work out what happens from within, rather than writerís room, once the campaign gets going. But I do like the meta conversation to be available if we need it. For example I once had a situation where the party got themselves arrested and charged with murder, and rather than let that take over the campaign for a few sessions, I asked if they wanted to zip over it with a general approach and a few rolls. That worked fine. Obviously the same tactic is useful for steering clear of things some players might find upsetting etc, or just arenít interested in, so I like players to feel that they can pick up the meta conversation at any point, itís just not the default mode.

    Iím not a big fan of FATE, at least so far, but Iíll read your story question post when I have time, looks interesting.
    Last edited by HidesHisEyes; 2021-11-30 at 11:19 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by HidesHisEyes View Post
    Iím not a big fan of FATE, at least so far, but Iíll read your story question post when I have time, looks interesting.
    Agreed with your main post.

    Happy to talk Fate some time. I may be able to change your opinion ;)
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  6. - Top - End - #66
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    One thing I'll add here that's different, but on a similar topic, is that I had a rather inverted experience with one of my groups. We rotated GMs which was cool, wish that happened more often, but our "main" GM had this particular obsession with the (what I gather to be in anime) "Isekai" trope. By which I mean I can comfortably say that more of our games with him were the characters being thrown into an entirely different setting against their will, than the characters remaining residents of the setting we found ourselves in at the start of the game. Obviously this would get old, but the worst part was that when he would run it in some systems (ie rifts) some characters would be far better suited to getting "Isekai'd" than others. The party was a mage, a cyberknight, some sort of supernatural creature, and myself, a Coalition States Navy SEAL equivalent.

    This was one of the first times he did this, so I wasn't expecting it and it was kinda fun, except there's something you need to know about rifts if you don't already- normal baseline humans are utterly HELPLESS against so-called "megadamage creatures" without super advanced weapons, because Rifts has this weird conceit about everything being incredibly overpowered to the point where it's kinda sorta balanced against itself because most things aren't dramatically MORE overpowered than others (ie high tech laser guns versus magic wands versus mystical martial arts versus psychic powers). Except I'd built my character to use the first of those four examples, and was transported with nothing but workout clothes and a pocket knife to a world where only the other three things existed. The first encounter was with a monster I had no hope of harming, but the other players could easily, so I spent most of the first session evacuating the villagers while they did the slaying. The cyberknight can conjure a psychic sword out of thin air, the mage still has all his magic, and the supernatural creature was no less supernatural. But I'm a dude in basketball shorts and a sweaty tank top, with a water bottle and a mostly harmless knife I actually had to argue the GM to let me have. I was the only one who could neither deal nor take damage in this new world.

    Eventually we're introduced to the king of this medieval fantasy nation, and he's very interested in us outsiders and wants to bring us into his court. I smell the chance to make my non-combat skills useful, because this naval commando officer of mine happens to have an extensive knowledge of naval history and sailing ships as a hobby skill. I ask excitedly if perhaps I could be assigned to the kingdom's navy, only for the final shoe to drop:

    The GM dropped us into an entirely landlocked nation.

    Why? Why would he let me choose to be a navy commando who specializes in future tech sniper rifles when he's going to drop me into a setting where neither sniper rifles nor navies exist? Couldn't he have at least given me a vague hint that this character wouldn't be a good fit?


    That's not the last time he'd done that, in fact the last time he did it (while I was in the group anyway, I moved, but I suspect he probably still does it), it was a pathfinder game where we were all explicitly members of a peace force desperately trying to keep order in a sprawling planar city in a massive demiplane that happened to have the chaotic descriptor, so it was an uphill battle indeed. All our characters are set up to operate with that in mind, and we were kinda ecstatic about the idea because it sounded unique and cool, and when he lays out a specific plan of what the campaign will be, he usually doesn't do that thing.

    Then, second session, he did the thing. Some super important NPC gets kidnapped, we see the abductors open a portal and jump through, we get urged on by our npc commander to follow, and it closes up right when we go through. Now we're in a forest somewhere, near an idyllic country village that wouldn't be out of place in Lord of the Rings.

    God dammit, man. Did you seriously do all the prep work laying out that elaborate city just as a bait and switch? We were really pissed off, because some of our characters (mine especially) just didn't gel with the "standard" D&D experience of going from village to village, clearing dungeons, meeting kings, slaying dragons, all that. We were cops because we were explicitly instructed to make cops. And sure, it could have been interesting to see how it played out, but how did he not see we were genuinely enthusiastic about the first setup, and how visibly disappointed we were as players when we realized he did the thing again?

    Long story short, its a bit of a two way street with not derailing the campaign in the first session, and the need for communication definitely applies to situations like this. You don't have to lay out the Big Twist ahead of time, but at least advise the players that this one will be "special" or "different" in some way. And if one of your PCs will not tolerate that Twist well, please, tell them something. Sure, it can be fun to adapt to new challenges like that, but don't knowingly let the player deprive himself of virtually all tools to do so.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-12-01 at 03:10 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #67
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Not just any NPC. The NPC the DM spent the whole campaign up to that point as the party's friend and mentor only for the Big Reveal to be AHA! he was the BBEG all along and tricked you.
    I think this is a case of good twists vs bad twists. A bad twist is one you could not have seen coming, a good twist is one you kick yourself for not seeing it coming.

    If it comes out of the blue to the party because the GM presented absolutely no way for them to have possibly discovered it before the Big Reveal, then it is bad.

    If there were plenty of clues and hints and the players could have come to their own conclusions about the friendly NPC in advance of the GM dropping the charade then it is fine. Essentially the "Big Reveal" if you're doing that plot is the point where the GM is despairing that you'll ever notice the bleedin' obvious.

  8. - Top - End - #68
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    "Isekai"

    Obviously this would get old,

    , a Coalition States Navy SEAL equivalent.

    " without super advanced weapons, because Rifts

    was transported with nothing but workout clothes and a pocket knife to a world where only the other three things existed.

    But I'm a dude in basketball shorts and a sweaty tank top, with a water bottle and a mostly harmless knife I actually had to argue the GM to let me have. I was the only one who could neither deal nor take damage in this new world.

    Couldn't he have at least given me a vague hint that this character wouldn't be a good fit?
    This feels anti-thought-through, especially since you had to argue even for your knife. If you'd have had your sniper rifle, you could have at least contributed. This definitely sounds like a scenario where a clue-by-four and I would have taken the GM aside for a little chat. I'm sorry your table wasn't packing. Any idea what the GM thought your character would do?

    Personally, I've never had Isekai get old (not that I've gotten to do it much), nor do I see why it would. Care to explain why it seems obvious to you that it should?

  9. - Top - End - #69
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    This feels anti-thought-through, especially since you had to argue even for your knife. If you'd have had your sniper rifle, you could have at least contributed. This definitely sounds like a scenario where a clue-by-four and I would have taken the GM aside for a little chat. I'm sorry your table wasn't packing. Any idea what the GM thought your character would do?

    Personally, I've never had Isekai get old (not that I've gotten to do it much), nor do I see why it would. Care to explain why it seems obvious to you that it should?
    That's the thing, you haven't gotten to do it much. If it's an unexpected change from the norm I'm sure it would be fun, and if not for that particular spoiled point the first one certainly would have been. But when you come to the table trying to second guess what kind of random ass world your GM is going to toss you into, and pretty much have to build an entirely self contained general purpose character because there's no guarantee that a specialized character of ANY SORT will be useful (he could have just as easily thrown us into a no-magic world, and the mage would have been the useless one instead of my commando, for example). Why should I put any points into computer skills when there's only like a one in four chance they'll even exist in whatever world we end up being sent off to? Why waste points on any foreign language skills when surely the fantasy world of the week has no concept of French or Cambodian or Arabic and its only by GM fiat that we can communicate with them at all? Why bother becoming an expert automobile driver, when the place we'll probably end up in is just as likely to rely on horses, or sailboats, or airships, or starships? One of the players, when it was GURPS, specifically sat down with the intent of creating a character with as many disjointed, random skills as possible to make him competent at something pretty much no matter what; he settled on Hollywood stuntman, since that's a great way to explain away being versed in horse archery, driving, classical fencing, judo, freediving, and a whole lot of other random "adventure-y" skills, and he ended up using that last very last point of a random skill he picked that a stunt actor might know to impress some tribals with Hawaiian fire poi dancing. He didn't have that skill because it was central to his character, or because it fit with the campaign or setting, or anything like that. It was just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what stuck.

    Plus, most of our table has a fondness for creating characters whose backstories mesh well into the world and provide context for our actions and desires. It all just becomes the reason why you're trying to escape this cavern system, or this rainforest, or this medieval fantasy world. Your family you took as dependents aren't here, the military you swore allegiance to can't be reached, your father's killer probably isn't even on this plane of existence unless the GM pulls a second ass pull, etc. There's only so many times you can go through the motions of "oh no, where are we? Let's try to get back home or at least assimilate into this new place, I guess" within a couple of months before its just phoning it in.

    Really it boils down to two points- the GM clearly not being able or willing to understand what his players wanted, since we were TELLING HIM we were tired of this, and the GM not having enough of an attention span to keep one of these games going long enough to actually LET us try to get home or assimilate, since on average every fifth session was him telling us to roll new characters and start the whole cycle over again when he was on one of his Isekai binges. He was more than capable of running a long term campaign when it was a "normal" game, and I enjoyed several of them, but then it was like a switch flipped and he's wanna do this **** again. Like I said, we were rotating GMs, so fortunately someone would usually break the cycle and take over for a bit, but you know...it does get tiresome when you can't actually get attached to anything at all. I don't remember any of those characters except for the ones who didn't fit in at all because I remember how frustrated I was. I started learning his tells and when it was gonna be one of Those Games so I might as well slap together some cliche character and experience the whole thing again with a new archetypal guy, since there wouldn't be time for character self exploration or development.

    He didn't take it well when we tried to explain our grievances, either, since he got defensive and assumed we had problems with his GMing style itself rather than the specific elements we tried to explain.

    So, yeah, I kinda wonder how that group is doing now that I moved and don't keep in touch anymore. I did have a lot of fun, I don't want it to sound like I just sat there and suffered the whole time, but every group has highs and lows and these scenarios were the lows.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-12-03 at 02:55 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #70
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Sounds like it is time for you to volunteer to GM.
    Last edited by Easy e; 2021-12-03 at 05:52 PM.
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  11. - Top - End - #71
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Easy e View Post
    Sounds like it is time for you to volunteer to GM.
    ...I've been GMing exclusively for the last three years straight, and was one of the aforementioned rotating GMs. Thanks for the advice.
    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    Do not try a linear campaign, without some discussion with them. Players very often look at your hooks and then try to accomplish it in a different way, not touch it, try to do the complete opposite, or somehow set it on fire.

  12. - Top - End - #72
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    Plus, most of our table has a fondness for creating characters whose backstories mesh well into the world and provide context for our actions and desires. It all just becomes the reason why you're trying to escape this cavern system, or this rainforest, or this medieval fantasy world. Your family you took as dependents aren't here, the military you swore allegiance to can't be reached, your father's killer probably isn't even on this plane of existence unless the GM pulls a second ass pull, etc.
    this, above all. it's like taking every character backstory and throwing it into the trash bin. very bad manner towards the player's efforts.
    the whole isekai thing could work for a few sessions, if you can come back to your world later. having your whole character premise being taken away from you

    the dm getting tired of a campaign after a few sessions and telling the players to make a new one... that's something i never heard of

    i think you should not have let that guy dm anymore, after the second or third time. not everyone is suited to the task
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  13. - Top - End - #73
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    This feels anti-thought-through, especially since you had to argue even for your knife. If you'd have had your sniper rifle, you could have at least contributed. This definitely sounds like a scenario where a clue-by-four and I would have taken the GM aside for a little chat. I'm sorry your table wasn't packing. Any idea what the GM thought your character would do?

    Personally, I've never had Isekai get old (not that I've gotten to do it much), nor do I see why it would. Care to explain why it seems obvious to you that it should?
    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    ...snip for brevity...

    He didn't take it well when we tried to explain our grievances, either, since he got defensive and assumed we had problems with his GMing style itself rather than the specific elements we tried to explain.

    So, yeah, I kinda wonder how that group is doing now that I moved and don't keep in touch anymore. I did have a lot of fun, I don't want it to sound like I just sat there and suffered the whole time, but every group has highs and lows and these scenarios were the lows.
    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    this, above all. it's like taking every character backstory and throwing it into the trash bin. very bad manner towards the player's efforts.
    the whole isekai thing could work for a few sessions, if you can come back to your world later. having your whole character premise being taken away from you

    the dm getting tired of a campaign after a few sessions and telling the players to make a new one... that's something i never heard of

    i think you should not have let that guy dm anymore, after the second or third time. not everyone is suited to the task
    Replying to this conversation generally as someone who runs a lot of isekai games, aside from the other obvious DMing issues with Milodiah's past DM; one of the clearest issues, which most isekai animes just skip through these days because it's the issue I stressed in my original post, was that you all started rolling dice before you really should have.

    The core concept of an isekai is that you start out as mundane. Sure, you may have family, or a good job, or friends and a whole life, but ultimately you're just a normal person. Maybe a person with some skills like a scientist or a soldier or a business owner or something, but you're NOT a werebeast, you're not a wizard, you not a super-soldier, you're just a regular person. And then you get hit by a truck, or trapped in a video-game or you fall through a portal or whatever.

    In some of these you become the character you made. In some of these you become someone or some thing else, in some of these you just get to be yourself in a new world. But you don't play through the intro. The game starts after you get hit by a truck, or stabbed on the street, etc... once you wake up on the other side.

    So, once again, an FYI for everyone who wants to try running an isekai, or any game in general, and I know it's hard because even a lot of published or "official" games don't do it right; know when your game really starts. Because otherwise you're running some form of railroad gotcha where you pretend there are choices, and you pretend the dice matter, but they really don't because it all comes down to a single door at the end where if the party somehow manages to escape, avoid, or break through the nearby wall, the game you set up just plain doesn't happen.

    Also, ya know, just be clear with players. Yes, the players may be "in on it" but they're there to play the game right? Worry less about the players knowing game secrets and more about having a fun game. Especially in games (not just isekais) that rely heavily on tropes.
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  14. - Top - End - #74
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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    The core concept of an isekai is that you start out as mundane. Sure, you may have family, or a good job, or friends and a whole life, but ultimately you're just a normal person. Maybe a person with some skills like a scientist or a soldier or a business owner or something, but you're NOT a werebeast, you're not a wizard, you not a super-soldier, you're just a regular person. And then you get hit by a truck, or trapped in a video-game or you fall through a portal or whatever.
    Eh, the genre is way past that at this point. I mean there's one where the red ranger from a sentai team gets isekaid and all his henshin powers still work (it wasn't as good as the concept makes it sound don't bother).

    But the other side, which your examples needed, is that when truck-kun comes to someone who isn't painfully generic the isekai world will bend itself to accommodate whatever they are good at and make that the key to saving the world and getting the harem

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by GloatingSwine View Post
    Eh, the genre is way past that at this point. I mean there's one where the red ranger from a sentai team gets isekaid and all his henshin powers still work (it wasn't as good as the concept makes it sound don't bother).

    But the other side, which your examples needed, is that when truck-kun comes to someone who isn't painfully generic the isekai world will bend itself to accommodate whatever they are good at and make that the key to saving the world and getting the harem
    Yes, there are a lot of different isekais out there, some with more or less success than others. Which gets back to the issue of communicating with your players, if they all KNOW they're about to get isekai'd and the world they are about to go into will/won't be able to support their chosen class (IE: magic doesn't exist, lasers don't exist, etc...) they'll make characters appropriate to that. A lot of complaints about people making characters "not appropriate to the game" stem from (aside from troublemakers) poor communication about what the game is going to be.
    -Which is the other issue we see in the OP. I'm sure if the OP's DM had sold the game as "You're all captured by the Empire and sent on various suicide-missions ala Suicide Squad." They wouldn't have had such of a left-turn, because well, the left turn wouldn't have existed.

    So I should say the typical formula for an isekai is that you start out as mundane (to some degree). It's also the one I've found the most success with. I've done it the other way, but it's much harder to balance (not that being OP isn't totally a staple of the genre...unless you're in a type D).

    The biggest issue with turning an isekai into a game is that the "rules" of anything on TV or in a manga or whatever exist only to accommodate the plot, whereas the actual rules of a TTRPG game exist to enable a certain style and power-level of gameplay. (some systems may or may not be better than others for some types of isekais). Beyond that, the usual issues of taking a story with an (often) singular protag and including other characters.
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  16. - Top - End - #76
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    The core concept of an isekai is that you start out as mundane. Sure, you may have family, or a good job, or friends and a whole life, but ultimately you're just a normal person. Maybe a person with some skills like a scientist or a soldier or a business owner or something, but you're NOT a werebeast, you're not a wizard, you not a super-soldier, you're just a regular person. And then you get hit by a truck, or trapped in a video-game or you fall through a portal or whatever.
    The funny thing is these are totally mundane people in the world of Rifts
    That's kind of the draw of the setting, to be honest, is that pretty much traveling one hundred miles in any given direction is a total genre shift, because every trope exists somewhere on the planet of Rifts Earth. The backstory is practically a reverse isekai, though I'm sure there's a better term, in that Magic **** Happens in the future and rather than it being a gradual awakening like Shadowrun, it's this insane cataclysmic opening of interdimensional rifts (hehe name drop) to pretty much everywhere in the multiverse. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table walked out in England, dinosaurs charged into the Carolinas, China got turned into a Land of Mist ruled by the ancient immortal masters of the afterlife, vampire hiveminds stalked into Mexico, aliens landed in Peru, Atlantis popped up because how could it not, and those are just the first few examples that come to mind. So now you have this absolutely ****ing insane blending of mythological creatures, space aliens, magicians, psychics, superheroes, cyborgs, demons, ninjas, psychic cyborg demon ninjas, ANYTHING.

    The guy behind the counter at the deli could be an eight armed cyclops, the cop arresting the carjacker outside might be a chemically perfected superhuman who could take Captain America out with an ear flick but that's reasonable because the carjacker is the son of a demigod, the mayor making pleasant small talk with you while waiting in line might be a dragon, and once you get your cut of mammoth steak weighed you'll walk outside to your giant fighting robot and hop in to go home to your spouse, a plant person.
    So really it's not even surprising to us that we're dealing with a totally different world, which really reduces the impact to the characters.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-12-04 at 12:39 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    Do not try a linear campaign, without some discussion with them. Players very often look at your hooks and then try to accomplish it in a different way, not touch it, try to do the complete opposite, or somehow set it on fire.

  17. - Top - End - #77
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    The funny thing is these are totally mundane people in the world of Rifts
    That's kind of the draw of the setting, to be honest, is that pretty much traveling one hundred miles in any given direction is a total genre shift, because every trope exists somewhere on the planet of Rifts Earth. The backstory is practically a reverse isekai, though I'm sure there's a better term, in that Magic **** Happens in the future and rather than it being a gradual awakening like Shadowrun, it's this insane cataclysmic opening of interdimensional rifts (hehe name drop) to pretty much everywhere in the multiverse. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table walked out in England, dinosaurs charged into the Carolinas, China got turned into a Land of Mist ruled by the ancient immortal masters of the afterlife, vampire hiveminds stalked into Mexico, aliens landed in Peru, Atlantis popped up because how could it not, and those are just the first few examples that come to mind. So now you have this absolutely ****ing insane blending of mythological creatures, space aliens, magicians, psychics, superheroes, cyborgs, demons, ninjas, psychic cyborg demon ninjas, ANYTHING.

    The guy behind the counter at the deli could be an eight armed cyclops, the cop arresting the carjacker outside might be a chemically perfected superhuman who could take Captain America out with an ear flick but that's reasonable because the carjacker is the son of a demigod, the mayor making pleasant small talk with you while waiting in line might be a dragon, and once you get your cut of mammoth steak weighed you'll walk outside to your giant fighting robot and hop in to go home to your spouse, a plant person.
    So really it's not even surprising to us that we're dealing with a totally different world, which really reduces the impact to the characters.
    Not familiar with Rifts so thanks for that, and yeah, definitely seems like the whole isekai concept is a bit wasted there. Why go to another universe when you can just go Queens?
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  18. - Top - End - #78
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    A lot of complaints about people making characters "not appropriate to the game" stem from (aside from troublemakers) poor communication about what the game is going to be.
    -Which is the other issue we see in the OP. I'm sure if the OP's DM had sold the game as "You're all captured by the Empire and sent on various suicide-missions ala Suicide Squad." They wouldn't have had such of a left-turn, because well, the left turn wouldn't have existed.
    seen from that light, it's a fun story. there's many instances of dm with problem players that make characters inappropriate to setting. here, the dm is lucky enough to have good players with good characters for the setting... so he changes the setting on the fly to make the characters inappropriate.
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    seen from that light, it's a fun story. there's many instances of dm with problem players that make characters inappropriate to setting. here, the dm is lucky enough to have good players with good characters for the setting... so he changes the setting on the fly to make the characters inappropriate.
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  20. - Top - End - #80
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    -Which is the other issue we see in the OP. I'm sure if the OP's DM had sold the game as "You're all captured by the Empire and sent on various suicide-missions ala Suicide Squad." They wouldn't have had such of a left-turn, because well, the left turn wouldn't have existed.
    .
    The game was sold as scum and villainy, and all the plot hooks and missions ran through the seedy underbelly of the empire.

    The DMĒs choice was correct. In order to feel that something (your freedom) has been taken away you have to have it first. Thatís why the Count of Monte Christo starts with Edmond Dantes as a shipís officer, Captain Blood starts with Peter Blood as a surgeon and The Running Man starts with Ben Richards as a police helicopter pilot

    Weíve done the ďyou wake up with a neck bombĒ device and itís hard to get invested in that plot device.

  21. - Top - End - #81
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    I mean, the thing is that the mean right hook of that plot twist happens probably at the end of session one, maaaaybe into the second or third session if the GM is playing it slow. We all know campaigns have an extremely unpredictable lifespan, but even then, you're risking people's enjoyment with the storyline overall by not communicating well on purpose in order to keep this one not-entirely-unpredictable twist a secret. Since this GM seems intent on preserving the plotline of Suicide Squad to the point of yanking the GM fiat chain, rather than admitting your escape was pretty genuine and maybe bringing that hook back a bit later into the campaign after a few sessions with an even more impatient Imperial officer who stages an even more dramatic capture party and says something like "You chaps sure are hard to find, I don't know what my higher ups see in you but they INSIST on your cooperation". An in-universe solution to camouflaging the admittedly pretty undesirable amount of railroading, but the GM is pretty intent on this particular train route so just saying "screw it" doesn't seem to be an option.

    It does admittedly boil down to personal preference as to how much of a roadmap the GM hints at in order to ensure understanding between the parties. I've gone so far as to obfuscate what SETTING we were playing by running a GURPS modern police procedural game that's really Call of Cthulhu in disguise, because if I showed up with Call of Cthulhu character sheets then my veteran players would certainly know what's up and the sheer shock of suddenly finding the dimensional shambler hiding in the closet of the suspect's apartment is lost. Still, though, that was only for a shorter mini-campaign, rather than a long term commitment.

    I think that kind of GM deception should be the exception, not the rule; I find that trying this hard on concealing a plot twist at the expense of potentially impairing your players' enjoyment usually focuses a lot on the destination, and not as much on the journey, which is what I find joy in while playing or running RPGs. I'm a firm believer in the idea that if you have a rich enough world, your players are gonna FIND a storyline that resonates with them, whether you meant for them to or not, and it's just unfair to rip them off of it if it's not the one YOU picked.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-12-04 at 04:19 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    Do not try a linear campaign, without some discussion with them. Players very often look at your hooks and then try to accomplish it in a different way, not touch it, try to do the complete opposite, or somehow set it on fire.

  22. - Top - End - #82
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Thatís why the Count of Monte Christo starts with Edmond Dantes as a shipís officer, Captain Blood starts with Peter Blood as a surgeon and The Running Man starts with Ben Richards as a police helicopter pilot

    Weíve done the ďyou wake up with a neck bombĒ device and itís hard to get invested in that plot device.
    yeah, funny thing, what works in a book or movie won't work in an rpg. in a story you can control your characters and make sure the plot goes as it should. in an rpg, you cannot; hence you must either be more flexible with your plot, or railroad hard, or hope the party will just get along. railroading has a lot of downsides, and hoping the party just does what you want them to... doesn't always work.

    you'll also notice that in movies the heroes are always weaker that the enemy, and they barely win. whereas in rpg they are stronger, otherwise they'd die the first time the dice roll against them
    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 False God View Post
    Yes, there are a lot of different isekais out there, some with more or less success than others. Which gets back to the issue of communicating with your players, if they all KNOW they're about to get isekai'd and the world they are about to go into will/won't be able to support their chosen class (IE: magic doesn't exist, lasers don't exist, etc...) they'll make characters appropriate to that. A lot of complaints about people making characters "not appropriate to the game" stem from (aside from troublemakers) poor communication about what the game is going to be.
    Oh yeah, in the isekai case at best the GM made a rod for their own back by not specifying what kind of characters would be able to operate in the setting and the best was a far stretch away. A sane way of handling that would be to get the party to co-operate to make the same type of characters then isekai them all into a world where their characters worked but in an unconventional manner. (like, eg. the Navy SEAL would still have a lot of survival and SERE skills, they should still have an active combat loadout but those would be super limited magic spells, basically. Devastating when used but be aware how you're using your ammo, you don't know when you're getting resupply)


    -Which is the other issue we see in the OP. I'm sure if the OP's DM had sold the game as "You're all captured by the Empire and sent on various suicide-missions ala Suicide Squad." They wouldn't have had such of a left-turn, because well, the left turn wouldn't have existed.
    Oh yeah, OP's GM didn't realise that the game started on the last bullet point. "You're all in Task Force X, how did you get here" should have been in the session 0.

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    The game was sold as scum and villainy, and all the plot hooks and missions ran through the seedy underbelly of the empire.

    The DMĒs choice was correct. In order to feel that something (your freedom) has been taken away you have to have it first. Thatís why the Count of Monte Christo starts with Edmond Dantes as a shipís officer, Captain Blood starts with Peter Blood as a surgeon and The Running Man starts with Ben Richards as a police helicopter pilot

    Weíve done the ďyou wake up with a neck bombĒ device and itís hard to get invested in that plot device.
    Characters in stories do not have free will. They all must obey the desires of the author. The enjoyment of the reader or viewer is knowing the plot and wanting to know what happens. They already know the character will be railroaded (pun intended) into an unfun for them situation. The enjoyment is in the journey of the hero getting out of the situation and seeking revenge. Players have free will and are not wrong to vehemently object when the DM pitches a campaign only to change the whole thing by surprise in addition to making the players' characters now worthless in game mechanical effects to influence encounters. Players are not wrong to object being tricked/fooled.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
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  25. - Top - End - #85
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    The game was sold as scum and villainy, and all the plot hooks and missions ran through the seedy underbelly of the empire.

    The DMĒs choice was correct. In order to feel that something (your freedom) has been taken away you have to have it first. Thatís why the Count of Monte Christo starts with Edmond Dantes as a shipís officer, Captain Blood starts with Peter Blood as a surgeon and The Running Man starts with Ben Richards as a police helicopter pilot

    Weíve done the ďyou wake up with a neck bombĒ device and itís hard to get invested in that plot device.
    But those are stories. It's impactful because it's well written but follows a path. Edmond Dantes never had a real choice for anything else to happen. The same is true for the rest.

    The character's freedom was still taken away. But it being taken away was necessary for the rest of the story (in this case the game) to happen. The OP's DM could have narrated all the points up to to where the game actually started with exactly the same effect. Because ultimately, you either care about Dantes or Blood or Richards or your character, or you don't. Everything up to where the book begins or the game starts is an illusion.

    If the player doesn't care about their character because they never got the chance to roll die and randomly generate their freedom (or lack thereof) and can't simply imagine that they were free before the game started, they're going to have problems with any game that is anything more than "Okay, you're all in Townsville, what do you do?" But then really the problem is with the player and not the DM.
    Last edited by False God; 2021-12-04 at 11:37 PM.
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  26. - Top - End - #86
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    Default Re: Derailing the campaign in session one

    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    ...I've been GMing exclusively for the last three years straight, and was one of the aforementioned rotating GMs. Thanks for the advice.
    Thank goodness I updated it to Blue text then. Carry-on and good luck.
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