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CraigR 07-18-2019 10:26 PM

The "B" Campaign
 
You always hear about campaigns where the PCs ignore the GM's carefully laid plotline and go off to do their own things. Has anyone run a game where the planned plot continued even though the PCs didn't take the bait? Where the events of that continued in the background of the current game, with NPCs fulfilling the important plot points that the players would occasionally cross paths with?

I just have this scene running through my head where the PCs encounter the NPCs, who have been of a similar level to the party through the whole campaign, and are now the heroes of the realm, while the players are relatively obscure minor actors on the world stage. And asking the GM why, only to have him respond that he gave them the chance to go down that path at the beginning, but they chose not to take it.

Has anything even close to that ever happened in your games?

zorg 07-18-2019 11:41 PM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
These days, I try to follow the Alexandrians advice not to prep plots. This has worked very well so far.

whswhs 07-19-2019 12:12 AM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by zorg (Post 2275034)
These days, I try to follow the Alexandrians advice not to prep plots. This has worked very well so far.

That's how I've been running things for a long time. Even if I have an "adventure" for the PCs, I don't know how it will come out; I just present the initial situation. I often feel like Gromit riding the toy train, and frantically laying down railroad track just in front of where the train happens to go. . . .

Mark Skarr 07-19-2019 12:39 AM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by zorg (Post 2275034)
These days, I try to follow the Alexandrians advice not to prep plots. This has worked very well so far.

Quote:

Originally Posted by whswhs (Post 2275038)
That's how I've been running things for a long time. Even if I have an "adventure" for the PCs, I don't know how it will come out; I just present the initial situation. I often feel like Gromit riding the toy train, and frantically laying down railroad track just in front of where the train happens to go. . . .

I'm not quite as hectic as Bill here, but, yeah. I usually start out with an idea, present it to my players, and watch the carnage. When I have an adventure in mind, I just gently suggest it to them, knowing I can use it anywhere I need to in the future.

If you trust your players, you can have their help in making your game world as you go.

On the other hand, we've played with people who have had their specific world and game and they were sticking to their plot no matter what! It didn't work out well for them. We're a friendly group, but, it's a lot like herding childre--CATS! Or "the avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote."

thorr-kan 07-19-2019 10:01 AM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark Skarr (Post 2275040)
If you trust your players, you can have their help in making your game world as you go.

On the other hand, we've played with people who have had their specific world and game and they were sticking to their plot no matter what! It didn't work out well for them. We're a friendly group, but, it's a lot like herding childre--CATS! Or "the avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote."

This is true.

But there are also groups that say, "Railroad us. We too old, and we don't have time to putter around." My Friday night group is like that. We get maybe 2-3 hours, every two weeks. 50 has hit everybody or is barreling down like a freight train. We just don't have time.

This applies to my Al-Qadim campaign, which is generally the only campaign we revisit. I'm running the AQ 2E modules with little or no modification.

Other campaigns, run by other DMs, are one-shots. They vary in system and are much more sandbox-y. Some have gone completely off the rails, and we're all usually OK with that, though we try to build PCs with some connection to the intended plot so the DM has some agency.

David Johnston2 07-19-2019 11:56 AM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CraigR (Post 2275020)
You always hear about campaigns where the PCs ignore the GM's carefully laid plotline and go off to do their own things. Has anyone run a game where the planned plot continued even though the PCs didn't take the bait? Where the events of that continued in the background of the current game, with NPCs fulfilling the important plot points that the players would occasionally cross paths with?

I just have this scene running through my head where the PCs encounter the NPCs, who have been of a similar level to the party through the whole campaign, and are now the heroes of the realm, while the players are relatively obscure minor actors on the world stage. And asking the GM why, only to have him respond that he gave them the chance to go down that path at the beginning, but they chose not to take it.

Has anything even close to that ever happened in your games?

No. Honestly that would be kind of catty. What I did do was come up with a campaign outline where I would give the players things they could get involved with and decided ahead of time what the consequences of them deciding to go elsewhere, consequences that were frequently but not always bad.

Celjabba 07-19-2019 12:25 PM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CraigR (Post 2275020)
You always hear about campaigns where the PCs ignore the GM's carefully laid plotline and go off to do their own things. Has anyone run a game where the planned plot continued even though the PCs didn't take the bait? Where the events of that continued in the background of the current game, with NPCs fulfilling the important plot points that the players would occasionally cross paths with?

Yes, sort off.

I don't run "carefully laid plotline" campaign anymore, but a close exemple would have been a Mage : The Ascension campaign where the players could basically choose between 2 paths. Once they had commited, various NPC that the PC interacted with in the beginning "ran" the other path.

Another much older exemple would have been the original dragonlance campaign. I was a player then, but we did go seriously "off path" for a module, and the GM basically had some NPCs take up the load until we were back on track.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CraigR (Post 2275020)
I just have this scene running through my head where the PCs encounter the NPCs, who have been of a similar level to the party through the whole campaign, and are now the heroes of the realm, while the players are relatively obscure minor actors on the world stage. And asking the GM why, only to have him respond that he gave them the chance to go down that path at the beginning, but they chose not to take it.

Has anything even close to that ever happened in your games?

That scene, no.
I had player inquire (or rants :) ) about some world events, and I did told them "well, you could have prevented/altered those" but that's different to telling them "you could have been great".

woodchuck 07-19-2019 01:31 PM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
Remember in many or most cases your players will not know nor care how much effort you put in to crafting your games. Plan accordingly.

Mark Skarr 07-19-2019 01:59 PM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
For those GMs who plan extensively because it's your thing: Remember that just because your players didn't follow the well-crafted plot you created, doesn't mean that planning was wasted.

Cut up the plot, file off NPC serial numbers and reuse them in the future. It's only a waste if you throw it all away.

The best way to avoid wasting a lot of work is to talk to your players, find out what they want to do, and plan around that. Don't just make stuff blindly and assume that they'll follow it. Find out what they want, and do that.

You don't, solely, own the game. It's a collaborative product. So, collaborate.

If your players are going off the map to spite you, have a long talk with them. Going off because they're following a different story is fine, going off because they want to be contrary is not.

For players: playing your character is important, but, when your character is [a butt], no one wants to play with that character. Being contrary because "it's what my character would do" isn't a valid answer, and you know it. Do better. RPGs are, as I said before, collaborative.

Going off the map because the GM made Y sound much more interesting, to you, than X is one thing. Wanting to do Z because everyone else wants to do X is not cool.

sgtcallistan 07-20-2019 08:48 AM

Re: The "B" Campaign
 
When modules stopped dictating how we played (quite a long time now), we've agreed upon a style of play for all of our games:

The game world will have people, places, events etc. which we can be involved in or not.

Not being involved = boredom, so players choose to interfere, or play along due to friendships, duties, personal reasons of their characters.

A shared cultural imperative or professional code of behaviour helps here.

An interesting trick we've tried for new or re-entering players was to have them play a minor villain or encounter character (trick is that they have useful knowledge or skills), so the player can learn the mood, style and then either modify or whole-cloth a character based on experience.

We had one who was met a number of times as a calm and careful pirate-captain who had impressed his opponents, but who naturally had several people who hated him.

Through deciding to undertake to rites of adulthood again, and facing trials of his moral worth and courage, he re-won ownership to his ship, his remaining stock of valuables, and a new name.

There may be challenges ahead, but the character is a fully-trusted member of the party.

All of this was not in the GM's original campaign, which went on un-interfered-with, resulting in a serious problem for us when we get back.

The other assumption agreed upon: the bad guys won't wait for us to interfere in their plans. ;)


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