View  Edit  Attributes  History  Attach  Print  Search
OutofCharacter / PlanningVersusRailroading

Dragonslayer Thoughts - February 16 2013

Planning versus Railroading

I am at the point in our current story arc and Era that I want to be ready for the next adventure.

I have always been a planner. I like the idea of starting off with an idea and a blank canvas and laying out the interesting points from starting at A and ending at Z. I have never been one to be too picky about the how to get from A to B to C to J either in real life at work or in my game. I much rather prefer to have A then somehow get to J and then somehow get to Z when we are finished. I think that over planning or micro-managing can lead to all sorts of problems.

There is a tradition in roleplaying of letting the Players do what they want as long as it fits the story. Though there are other types of roleplaying games out there that are more story based and story driven entirely by the Players that is not what I run. My game is Player driven and DM guided. I pick the starting point based on many factors but primarily I use the current characters overall place in the world. Then I give the Players a little push and we see where the story takes us from there. I try to provide enough plot points that Players can choose to navigate between or through which ones that they find interesting.

If players want to go in a different direction that if fine with me as long as they understand there are consequences. If the story started off with trying to rescue someone who has been kidnapped and the players decide it is too much effort to save her then that does not mean that there will be some other group to swoop in and do the deed. If the Players know through meta-gaming that they will need to end up at Point Z to finish the story and just head there without walking through the other parts that is fine with me too. I try to accommodate the varying moods and choices that they make.

This leads me to what I was thinking about today while I was talking with a friend. I want to use a particular adventure set up after we complete the current story arc. It makes good sense for the group and at least three of the characters fit into the situation perfectly. The adventure is a good change of pace from the political intrigue and mystery they have been dealing with currently and should give everyone a chance to release a bit of blood lust in a situation that is fairly clear and forthright.

Where I stumbled a bit in my thinking was when I considered one newish Character/Player. He joined our game and the character he was handed was sucked into the adventure the group was on almost like a force of nature. He had no say in whether he wanted to be part of the story or not. This is perfectly understandable of course for integrating a new character into the mix. The Player understands how this works from the meta-gaming point of view. Yet when that story arc finished the Player chose to keep that character and continue along with the adventuring party that way. The next story arc completed and then the next started. All three of these story arcs are part of the overall Era so it all flows naturally and easily. The character and his actions have all been well done.

Then it occurred to me. The next story arc is the exact same thing all over for him. The Player will understand this but the character is going to basically get swept up in the adventures of the other characters that heading out to do. To be very clear there has been zero complaint or comment from the Player on this but I was thinking through each character's motivations for the upcoming story arc and was struck by this feeling. Am I railroading the Player into doing things when I should be giving a wider variety of adventures for the group to chose from?

I think I will have more to say about this later as I ponder this idea and think about how I plan more.

Upon further thought....

I decided to turn the entire next Dragonslayer Era into a series of missions. I am calling it Alia Valebat for Another Adventure. I can set up one story for each character to highlight something that Player would like to see happen. It might be finding an ideal magic item {all magic comes with a a price} or it might be doing a favor for someone that the Character wants to work with or for. I think this will make for a much longer Era than I had expected but it will give us a chance to create several small story arcs that are more closely tailored to each character.