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52

Railroading is forcing the characters into the prewritten story that the master created. It's generally frowned upon, because it disrupts the free-will oriented nature of roleplaying. In some cases however, some railroading is required. A typical example is the following. Suppose the characters enter a city, and find a riot or similar event. The most ...


41

My very first time as a GM, I showed up to the session with a great pile of notes and plot. Half an hour later I threw it out and started improvising because they'd gone in a totally different direction. Over the years most of my players have been willing to follow a railroad if I ask them to, but I've developed a totally different kind of session prep which ...


36

Since he was wrongly convicted, you could use that to your advantage. Have the group argue the PC's innocence (in the flashback), and better yet, give them plenty of time to prepare the defense. Let them totally outshine the prosecutor. Then have the (corrupt?) "Judge" say something like, "well, we can't let him go because then it would encourage everyone ...


19

The great thing about a rotational DMing system is that you can propose things to the group to check out without making it seem like you're targeting a specific person. They might realize they're the biggest offender, but it's still a more tactful solution when you present something like, "Hey, here's something that I think could help us all improve as DMs!" ...


16

"Railroading" and "sandbox" are two opposite ends of a spectrum, and as a result both are good in varying degrees. Really, railroading is any in-play modifications the GM makes to the world to accomplish his own story or other goals. In computer gaming it's called "linear." You are going to go from set piece A to B to C, most likely in that order, your ...


14

I prefer the other version of the question. How much plot guidance is too little. Aim for a smidge more guidance than the bare minimum and you'll have a party with plot without risking too much railroading. As everyone said, how much guidance is something that will vary from group to group. Even within a group it'll vary from session to session. I ...


14

I set a limited numbers of must, might and should rules for character creation. Those generally look like: Your character must agree to do X — plot of the game. For example, work for Black Mesa, help NPC X, need work because of repayment on space ship, yadda, yadda… Your character must have Y — linked to theme of the game. For example, be a known hero, ...


14

Different playstyles You virtually say that you and the GM in question do not want to play the same type of game. The answer, as with so many things, is to talk to them. But the topic should be how to get into the same style of game. If the GM is playing a mostly tactical game and expects most of the drama and fun to come in handling tactical situations, ...


12

Put the players into story telling mode. A situation with a fixed outcome is not fun to game, but it can be fun to story tell. I had a similar situation two sessions ago. We're fast forwarding through the levels because the game is coming to a close soon. The players had about a thousand miles of travel ahead of them. I figured we could skip that and ...


11

TALK TO YOUR DM Simply talking to your DM may entirely solve this problem. Talk before or after play, not during play; this allows the DM to plan, adapt, and see what you are talking about. Say that you feel like "all we're doing is bashing people's faces in," and you'd like to solve problems in different ways. Perhaps your should mention that you enjoy ...


11

It sounds like your problem is that your adventure's plot requires your players to have a specific set of encounters in a specific order. This kind of required linear progression is, as you have realised, a railroad. The way to avoid a railroad is not to require any or all of the encounters, and to not require them to play out in a specific order. Have you ...


10

The wishy-washy answer is "Exactly as much as it's fun for your group". I've personally run both kinds of extremes, with the same group, having fun in both occasions. Now that we got that out of the way: I currently prefer to write down the major plot points I want to present, and improvise around them or away from them if the players lead somewhere else. ...


8

I generally start my campaigns with one or two "common thread" requirements that all the PCs must incorporate. I usually pick one Location thread and one Experience thread. For example, I might say that 'You must be living in X town at the start of the campaign' and 'You have suffered greatly at the hands of the evil Y Empire.' These threads are mandatory, ...


7

It originates in the concept of rail travel: it's on tracks, you can only go forward or back. The simplest example of a railroad plot is a dungeon of one way doors that PC's can't jam open nor blast through, or the infamous "Teleport Dungeons" of both Gygax and St. Andre... You are dumped in a room, have an encounter, survive it or not, find the exit, ...


7

1. WALK AWAY In your case, since he's on the rotation, simply opt out when he's GMing. Hopefully, you get asked why, and it starts the conversation needed. If not, well, at least you are no longer suffering his GMing. 2. Discuss with the group Don't discuss it with just him - discuss it with the group as a whole. It's a group level issue. Odds are that ...


6

Have you considered asking your players? Tell them, "this frozen situation is the premise for my game. Write a character who would find himself in the situation and explain to me how he got there." If you let your players write it, it isn't really railroading anymore.


6

In addition to wax eagle's answer, I have one critical suggestion: Flashback These events are all in a PC's past. He's going to have to tell them about it sometime. When he does, play moves to the events of the trial. Other forms of fiction use this technique all the time, precisely to flesh out the details of events whose final outcome is known. For ...


6

Even if all the players know that one outcome is pre-determined, that does not mean that there cannot be other sources of either success or failure. The devil is in the details as they say. Maybe the family of the victim ends up being convinced (or not) of the character's innocence? Maybe the judge ends up being sympathetic but has to give a guilty ...


6

First. Make sure everyone in your group understands that this is a no win situation. I feel like if they know they cannot win from the outset they will not be too disappointed whenever what they try does not work, at least to the full extent they were hoping it would. This does not have to be stated out right, it can be more subtle, but I feel like at least ...


6

An extenstion of @gomad's thoughts: The play's the thing Rethink outcomes. You could flip expectations around and not make the verdict the important outcome. The outcome that matters to the new PC is: Length and Severity of the sentence. Change the injustice to being not just about guilt, a decidedly binary result, but instead be all about the nature of ...


6

In my experience, the amount of sandboxing or railroading can be contingent on how long your gaming session happens to be. If I am running a full long session (say about 6 hours) then I think that the players prefer lots of sandboxing. I like to just put out the map and say, "Go anywhere... do anything." If I am running a shorter session (say about 3 ...


6

It's often easier (and generates more interesting stories) if there's some pre-design criteria designed to link the characters. However, it's not necessary, you can do "random folks" games fine. There's often some element of metagaming to them - most traditional D&D campaigns started with various different people in an inn and some guy shows up ...


6

4E has rules for this So, you know how you can give Quests and Quests can result in XP? Make that your primary way players get XP rather than combat. Structuring your Adventures/Dungeons "We need to get the Ruby Cloak to heal the King!" "So, you need to find out where it is, travel to get there, and acquire it. You can make deals, negotiate, sneak ...


5

The way I see it, I want to say "life is not fair". If you were Ceaucescu, you tried to fight even though you know the jury was going to convict you anyway. If you were Robespierre, you talked until coughing cut your speech off to try to turn the tides of history, even though you knew the rich merchants from Bordeaux had bought the Assembly. If you ...


5

To my mind, railroading means taking any and all meaningful choices out of the hands of the players. It is not a style of play that I enjoy but some folks dig it.


4

FLASHBACK I've said it before and I'll say it again: There's a well-established technique for letting the players in on "how it came to be this way." It has several advantages: Lets the players know from the start that what they're doing is fleshing in the details of what will become their situation, but that the situation itself is fixed. Avoids charges ...


4

As I see it, there are two types of ways to deal with it, directly and indirectly. My answer, thus, will be divided according to this. Indirectly With some GMs, and/or in some groups, approaching the problem indirectly may work better. As you've stated, the group has rotating GMs and the problem is only that the person GMing now is not what you're looking ...


4

While improvising is always the way to go in my opinion, it seems like you're using a system (Roll20) that encourages a more planning-heavy approach. With that in mind, here's what I suggest: Players feel railroaded when it seems like their decisions don't matter. In order to keep them from feeling railroaded, you need to 1) make them feel as if they had ...


3

Simple answer would be: Railroading should be dosed depending on the player's taste. I think you should never try to control in what direction the party is going..but if the players are walking in an area of your world you didn't prepared yet, I suggest being honest with them and say: Okay I didn't planned that, so we'll make the journey important for this ...


3

I've had to do something similar before, and in my experience, you have to deal with Macro vs. Micro, and be willing to take steps away from your goal in order to make it there, and improvise on the fly. This is very hard to make a smooth experience, and the first time you do it, you'll have to be willing to take breaks in order to smooth over some of the ...



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