83

Talk to him, preferably as a group This is really the only solution besides "Bail on the game." They key here is to be respectful, polite, and try to handle this like friends. "Confront" is not the approach you are looking for here. "Discuss" would be better. You want to approach this from the standpoint of mutual improvement of the game, not of "You are a ...


81

Powerful drama requires powerful motivations. When everyone at the table agrees that they want a Horror game, they must craft their characters around these motivations. If they don't buy in, then you get the kind of power-fantasy where the heroes do the quite sensible thing of feeding Cthulhu a couple cases of dynamite and legging it. That isn't horror, that'...


58

Firstly, the assumption you're making is well-meaning, but wrong: as DM you shouldn't feel like you can never “break character” to just speak as a person to the other people at the table. You're playing a game, and sometimes you need to pause playing and just talk about the game directly. It may seem counter-intuitive, but games work much better when you've ...


47

They're really not that different... ...because you left out an important adjective: abandoned. Often, those "fantasy" adventure locations you cited - a crypt, a prison, a cave system, a necromancer's lair, or a castle - are only interesting because nobody is currently and legitimately/legally living there. They're full of loot because it's stuff that was ...


44

The only real thing you can do is talk to your DM. Explain to him why you dislike his way of playing. The only way to get him to change this behavior is to talk to him AND show him a better way. I know this probably isn't the answer you're looking for but sadly it's the only thing you can do. Furthermore, realise that DMing without railroading tends to be ...


43

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 ...


43

Understand what Player Agency is This is my definition: Players making informed meaningful decisions that have reasonable consequences that can be foreseen To have agency in the first place there must be: a decision of consequence to be made. A T-intersection in a dungeon with no other information is not a decision of consequence and no agency is ...


38

Tell Them Your Goals If you haven't already, I would start by telling them essentially what you just said here. That there is no "one true plot". Tell them that introducing an evil person / problem does not make it the overriding campaign unless they want it to be. Tell them that you are willing to follow along with their character's background goals. ...


38

To me it sounds like this is the start of the campaign, so simply do that - start it off with this scene of them getting that thing, maybe even before character creation, so that they know they need to make a character that would make such a decision. Or talk to your players. For a more concrete answer we would probably need information like who are ...


36

Write the story as if the characters were not there. Make sure that all your NPCs have motivations, goals and personalities. This is what would happen if the world was run like clock work. This is your story. Now, add the characters into the mix. Let the story be modified by what the characters do. The NPCs will react, and depending on their ...


28

I think you're metagaming. You, the GM and player, know that continuing to pursue the truth will lead to madness. Your characters don't know that. They don't know the risks yet. Your characters are just finding out (possibly for the first time) that "magic" or something like it is real. If you, in real life, just found out that magic was real, wouldn't you ...


26

Adjust your "course" to match their "straying". A DM without players is an arbiter, not an adjudicator. A DM with players is an adjudicator, not an arbiter, if they are a good DM. It actually doesn't matter if they did or didn't follow your planned course. If you put an ocean there, expect that it might be traveled. I suggest that you jot a few notes ...


26

You will have to improvise, to prevent de-railings. When that fails, you may have to sit down and have a frank discussion with your party. There are a lot of things that can be done to both allow for creative play and help keep a module on track. The longer you DM and the more practice you get the easier it will naturally become. So take a deep breath ...


24

You could present the game in a more reactive fashion. If the players do not appear to be making any kind of indications of the sort of actions that they would like to take then you could simply present low-importance information back to them and again prompt them for action. For instance: The players would like a means of entering a city and have their ...


23

My suggestion? Don't. When I run sandbox games, I tend to divide the world into regions of general power; I start the players off in a low threat zone, full of mudcrabs, rattata, and the occasional goblin. Then, in universe, I tell the players what areas are safe. Rumors in the bar that the road to Harborhead has been having some bandit troubles. The city ...


23

Simply be honest. "I'm going to run a pre-made adventure, so there will be railroad rides past scenery. Is everyone ok with this?" It doesn't have to be more complicated than that.


23

0. Nobody can force players to do anything. Unless it's part of the campaign premise, anyway. No matter what you drop in front of them, if they have a choice in the matter, they can take it. Whatever approach you take, keep this in mind - they might just decide to pass on this, and there's nothing you can do about it. 1. Make it look appealing. If your ...


21

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, ...


21

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!" ...


18

There are lots of different ways. It all depends on your preference as a GM, on preferences of your group, on the system, on your particular game and so on. But before I give you examples, let's get one thing out of the way first. I know I'm not supposed to take away player agency or narrate their actions for them Wrong. You, as a GM, are supposed to do ...


18

Should you be worried? That depends. Some people like being railroaded. They're there for the encounters, they don't want to have to worry too much about the impact of their decisions on the wider world and so forth. It's going to be different for different players. Given that you're working in 5th edition, though, you almost certainly already have a ...


17

Create consequences for their actions Everything they should be doing should have a strong reason to do so. That may be money, it may be saving lives, or it may be some other objective that fits the character's bonds. If players ignore these reasons let the consequences occur. If they choose to spend 3 days getting drunk at the bar, maybe the goblins they'...


16

In addition to the excellent answers already posted, let me suggest that you look at the kinds of protagonists that Lovecraft wrote about; police investigators ("The Call of Cthulhu", "The Horror at Red Hook"), artists looking for unique experiences ("Pickman's Model"), and people who actually wanted to find out more about the squiggly things under the bed ...


15

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 ...


15

One option is to decide that your character wants to follow the main quest. Roleplaying is a tool for having fun; if your roleplaying is causing you to not have fun, don't do it. (Or don't do it in that way). You've told us that you're having trouble because your character keeps not wanting to do the quest. Consider making up a reason why your character ...


15

Not all dungeons have walls. A dungeon is really an encounter graph with connections between them. Encounter graphs can be generated without any walls. You can start an encounter graph with a goal or a hook. A goal is an "end room" to your encounter graph (the treasure room of the moon king) while a hook is an entrance room to your encounter graph (a ...


14

Stop writing. :-) Think of villains and places. Feel free to write those down, but purely in terms of their past and present. You don't know their futures any more than the players know their characters' futures, so why write about that? This sounds like valadil's response, but I'm taking it a step further: don't even worry about your NPCs "doing stuff." ...


14

Have more meta-discussion. You've discussed the fact that he gives a lot of hints, and he said he would try and ease up on it, but the behavior hasn't changed. That suggests that, just like you're frustrated with his behavior, he has a problem with yours that he's trying to fix. In situations like this, I've found it useful to do postmortems. Often it would ...


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