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55

You've run into one of the dangers of pre-planning a plot. I'll give some ideas at the end about how to plan campaigns so this doesn't happen as much in the future, but first we have to deal with the current situation. Other answers have dealt nicely with the "stay on the rails" and "take a short detour" options, so I'd like to talk about a third choice: ...


40

Take charge, respectfully Treat your players' action declarations as statements of intent rather than a completed part of the narrative. Feel free to slow things down to insert details and intermediate steps when needed. What they are doing isn't always a problem. When a player says: "Ok, I go there." ...treat what they said as: "Ok, I intend ...


25

You ask about tools you can use in this and similar situations. Other answers have alluded to or mentioned these tools, but I think it would be useful to name them here so you can understand more clearly what your options are. I'll also give the advantages and disadvantages of each tool as I see them. Tool 1: Railroading You push ahead with your planned ...


19

A very good practive for running RPGs is to make sure that you always know what the players intend to accomplish with the actions they announce they want to do. The reverse is also true: Make sure that the players are having the facts right on which they base their plans. If you think the players are acting on the basis of false assumptions or ...


17

When things like this happen, I always give my players this chance to clarify/confirm, just like you've shown in the examples. My reasoning for this is simple: the game world and what is happening there is closer and more important for the characters than it is for the players. No matter how immersive your storytelling skills and how much everyone around the ...


16

Players miss plot hooks because they don't know they're plot hooks. For all they know, this is how the whole thing was supposed to go down! You can't force players to bite on the hooks; they might or might not, but either way you have to have a plan ready to deal with it. If you want to continue with that storyline, you can either dangle the hook again in ...


12

It sounds like you're asking "Is it possible to get people excited about something they have explicitly said they are not interested in?" Yes, it's very possible! If you want to get someone excited about something they've told you they don't like very much, the most straightforward way to do so is to make the thing you want them to like, more like a thing ...


11

Talk to your players about your constraints as a GM Ultimately this is an issue where the party as a group of human individuals playing the game will need to make concessions in their play approach to the limitations of you as a human individual GMing the game. In a perfect world you'd be able to respond to their decisions instantly, allowing you to juggle ...


10

Almost always, yes. You are their interface to reality and—sometimes—even to their own character's memory. Wanting to avoid the session going drastically pear-shaped just because of an oversight is a valid reason to step in and remind the player of something they've forgotten that their character wouldn't have. Doing it the way you suggest is perfectly ...


10

Short version: Ask questions. Abstraction The first thing to be aware of is that everyone has a different level of detail that they want or are comfortable with in their narration. Both your version and the rogue's version ultimately accomplish the same thing: the blacksmith's request is accepted, and the rogue is on her way to take care of it. Your way ...


8

There are two distinct possibilities that spring to mind when dealing with this particular problem. But, as was mentioned in the comments, make sure that this style of play will contribute to your players having fun, and not force them to do things that they don't want to do. To that end, the standard advice of "Talk to your players!" is applicable. With ...


7

The biggest and most important part of this advice is the following: Talk to your players! If nothing else about this answer helps, remember that. Before you begin springing improvisation on your players, sit them down- all at the table before you begin your next session- and pose the question. "Hey guys, I think we're all pretty good roleplayers, and ...


6

This was the right path all along. Imagine as if you had plotted this out where the players where supposed to attach to this character, and get them to clean up their life, and generally improve this character's life. Now write that story. You can reuse other parts of your story, but don't do so slavishly. Creating a "clone" of the NPC that dies is a bad ...


6

In their answer, BESW advocates to "Go along with the PCs' choices and look for opportunities to introduce the interesting people and ideas you have". This is what I would recommend also: work with your player's ideas to craft the story. One such idea sprang to mind in this particular case. It is taken from A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick. Sadly, if you ...


4

It all depends on how you "force" the issue. A couple of quick options might be He was never following the plan all along. Maybe the NPC (let's call him Bob) was never actually following the rehabilitation plan at all, and was just doing what the PC's asked to keep them happy - but behind closed doors, he was still, "drugging up" shall we say. This could ...


4

Some games (mainly Indie-Games) involve the players in the job the game-master is usually doing: telling what is happening and inventing details of the world. If you were OK with sacrificing your prepared encounter, but would have liked some colorful storytelling, you could have tried this way: Rogue: Ok, we go there. GM: Hm. OK. Four days later ...


3

Don't force the issue. If the players prove to be creative and effective at changing the game world, don't take that away from them. Somewhere in all of these answers you will find an approach that will let your game progress but do not use that approach if it takes away the player's agency. If you do, you'll only contribute to the eventual end of your game ...


2

Communication is your best weapon I think the obvious answer here is, as the divine godlike GM that you'll be to them; your best weapon is communication. TALK to them; your players. Their input is your best resource. Get them all together and provide them with a choice. Explain to them your ideas for a cooperative narration of planets, history, important ...


2

This started as a comment but I'd like it to persist, so I'll expand it to an answer. Lot's of great advice presented here, but I'll refer particularly to @BESW 's answer. Contrast the 2nd paragraph there with some of the discussions of railroading across the other answers. "...look for opportunities to introduce the interesting people and ideas you ...


2

I am going to give an answer to your specific situation, because I don't think I could give a better one than some of the above answers for the generic question of how to handle players missing plot hooks. A Golden Opportunity Seriously, your players have handed you an amazing plot hook. You introduced a character and they proceeded to make that ...


2

If your girlfriend has trouble holding focus on a long-winding campaign, consider implementing an episodic storytelling mechanic - have each session be a continuous storyline, but also self-contained, so that they start with a premise and end with a resolution. Consider doing it 'monster-of-the-week' style, such that you can play through encountering, ...


1

This very much depends on the specific game, game master, group, and the group's expectations. Unless the game is explicitly about the PCs getting into trouble (Paranoia especially comes to mind) or if players are new or new to the system, I caution the players for the first few sessions. If they don't pick up on it, then I let them get into trouble and ...



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