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My players have become fugitives from the law, so they are fleeing the country. My problem is I haven't been able to get a concrete destination or travel path from them. We did manage to narrow the destination to "South America" and that they'll probably be crossing by land to Mexico and chartering a boat from there. To me this is still incredibly vague, and makes it hard to plan for.

I suspect that part the problem is simply too many choices, at the same time I'm trying to let them drive the decision. I told them that I didn't care where they go, I mostly needed to determine the "climate", the "wealth/poverty", and the "size" of the place they're going to.

The other part of the problem is that they're running from something rather than running too something, so anywhere but here seems like a good idea.

I imagine this problem could happen in any game universe where the number of destinations is large. In my case it is the world of darkness, so it's planet earth (through the fractured mirror). But I can see it applying to Star Wars for example if one was trying to pick a planet whilst fleeing offworld (and having your own spaceship). This is why I'm not making this system specific.

How can I help my players make the decision of where to go without railroading them?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of How to present players with options without railroading them? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 9 '15 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of How can I effectively introduce hooks into a sandbox adventure? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 9 '15 at 22:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think if their goal is "anywhere but here" you can present them with options, like: there's a train leaving here for Texas in an hour, or one going to Tijuana in the morning. Or you might choose to hitchhike, or check out the bus options. What do you want to do first? My guess is they don't have a "plan" yet, they just want to move, and will take an option quickly available to them. From there maybe they will make a plan... \$\endgroup\$ – PurpleVermont May 10 '15 at 3:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleVermont I didn't think it was relevant for the question, but the chronicle is currently set in Austin, TX, so I don't think getting to Texas (or any part of the Border) is going to be a problem. Now crossing the border as wanted fugitives, that'll be a problem. \$\endgroup\$ – xenoterracide May 10 '15 at 4:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jessa they are related but a little broader, and my question is more about the "infinite options" problem, where as those are addressing a small number of player options. I've been attempting to run a sandbox style but probably failing at it. \$\endgroup\$ – xenoterracide May 11 '15 at 5:38
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I've run across this problem a number of time while playing as part of a group in an open ended game and it tends to come down to not really having a plan. The way to deal with this is to help your players put a plan together of what they are going to do, because they in all likelihood are being vague because they don't know their options.

Questions that you can use to help guide them are along the lines of: How are you planning to get to the boarder? Where abouts are you going to cross it? Assuming you get over the boarder, which city are you going to be heading for and how? How are you going to go about chartering a boat?

The players can use maps to help them plan their route. The important question of where they are actually planing to go can be narrowed down once they tell you how they are planning to get passage. Are they going to arrange it thought their contacts, who can give then give them a couple of options? Are they planning on stowing away or taking berth on an existing planned journey? This kind of information can be gathered online, either publically or by hacking relevant databases (assuming the right skills).

Once you know what city they are departing from, that helps narrow down the options.

Other alternatives are asking them if they are looking for anyone to take them in and shelter them, or providing them with information on a number of things they might want to do next (plot hooks) so that they can then have a discussion about what to do.

In sum:

  • To make decisions like this, they need a list or map to assist them in making choices.
  • Starting to plan the journey will help them narrow down their choices. Obstacles and problems force them to make decisions about how to proceed and gets them talking.
  • You can help them narrow down their options by providing some form of bias or hook, via in game channel.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll come back tomorrow and see if I can tidy this up. It feels a little rambly to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Mourdos May 9 '15 at 22:43

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