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/tg/ - Traditional Games


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41775673 No.41775673 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

So, when people say "The PCs should write the plot", what does that mean, as distinct from "Don't railroad?"

Because at least in the "normal" TTRPG scenario, the BBEG is the character who really drives the plot, not the PCs. Usually, you have a generally good and stable situation, where some grand villain rises up to upset it, gains momentum, and needs the heroes to oppose him or her.


The PCs dramatic role in the very grand picture is usually a reactive one, of stopping whatever it is the BBEG is trying to do. And in quite a few of them, the individual PC doesn't even mean all that much in the reactive role. If they die, they get replaced by another hero or group of heroes, whereas the death of the BBEG means it's over and you win.

Which again, isn't to say that the PCs choices don't matter. They should, and a well made setting will react to what the PCs do, and a good narrative should create big choices for the PCs to make, where there is A and B and it's not clear which is better and they have to choose who to save or help. But those are smaller strands than the classic big struggle against the BBEG.


Now, I mean, you can go completely the other direction, with a big busy sandbox for the PCs to play in, and no impending disaster on the horizon, and the goals being whatever they want to do, and yeah, for that, the PCs are definitely in full narrative control. But I don't think there's anyone who is so rabid as to believe that this is the only proper way to run a TTRPG, and honestly, given how passive a large number of players happen to be, I don't even think it's a particularly viable method of running a game. It is certainly a small minority of overall tabletop RPGs.


So Tl;DR. What the fuck is actually meant by "The PCs write the plot"? Call me dumb, but I just don't get it.

>> No.41775837

You sort of answered your own question. It's the BBEG that drives the plot, but the PCs reactions that shape the story. What it basically means is, when writing, don't write out what the PCs should do. Let them decide their reactions.

>> No.41775873

>So Tl;DR. What the fuck is actually meant by "The PCs write the plot"?
The plot goes places that the PCs are interested in going. If the barbarian really hates dragons, then the plot will provide him several opportunities to fight and kill them. If the wizard is fascinated by a certain type of magic, it will be key to several plot points. Also, what the PCs do and how they do it has an actual effect on the world; if the PCs slaughter a small clan of orcs to stop them raiding livestock, that's going to have a different effect on the world than if they pointed the orcs in the direction of better hunting grounds.

>> No.41776051

>>41775837
>>41775873

Pretty good answers here tbh.

>> No.41776307

>>41775837

So, basically

"Don't railroad".

>>41775873

>The plot goes places that the PCs are interested in going.

I'm not trying to be a confrontational ass, but why should this be the case? Take your first example of the barbarian hating dragons. A few games back, I had a setting where Dragons were directly created by the gods as a way of checking each other's power in interfering with the world that stuff was taking place on. They can literally do battle with the gods and win, and no mortal hero can stoop them. Finding this out and trying to get their help when the gods are breaking their agreements on the quiet side was a large portion of what was going on, and not information immediately available.


So then we drop in your hypothetical barbarian who hates dragons and really, really wants to kill one. Well, mechanically, he's never going to stand a chance. Thematically, it makes no sense. I should throw out a good chunk of the world to accommodate a player?


>. Also, what the PCs do and how they do it has an actual effect on the world; if the PCs slaughter a small clan of orcs to stop them raiding livestock, that's going to have a different effect on the world than if they pointed the orcs in the direction of better hunting grounds.

This is just not railroading, and giving logical consequences to actions.

>> No.41776469

>>41776307
>I should throw out a good chunk of the world to accommodate a player?

You need to talk with your players while designing your world, and while they're building their characters. What you have in this barbarian vs. godlike-dragons case is basically a player<->DM version of the thing where two players go off and make characters and then find out that they that don't fit together.

>> No.41776534

>>41776469
This. You and the players all need to speak beforehand to make sure everything is going to work out.

>> No.41776609

>>41776469
>>41776534


But the flip side of this is that often, there are mysteries you want in the world that the players don't know about (at least at first.) You kind of can't discuss those with your players, especially if everyone is making their first characters for the world.

>> No.41776722

>>41776609

Depends on GM style. I lean towards the seat-of-your-pants fashion of GMing, where *I* don't even know the answers to those mysteries, and we all play to find out.
I feel like deciding them from the get-go would be robbing myself of the chance to be surprised by what turns up.

>> No.41776893

>>41775673
I once saw an anon describe this kind of thing as "having the players build a railroad for you".

>>41775837
>>41775873
These are good, but pulling it off requires players who are willing to get invested in their characters and the story.

>> No.41777217

>>41776609

Stop being a railroading That GM.

Play a few games, then maybe you'll understand.

>> No.41777328

>>41777217
Having things you don't want the players to know about so they can discover them later is hardly railroading or That GM.

>> No.41777358
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41777358

>>41775673
Use this method.

>> No.41777408

>>41776609
If in your setting doesn't make sense hating the dragons and a players says he want to play a dragon hating barbarian you point out it doesn't make sense and help him making another concept.

You are missing the point, you just choose the one example that doesn't make sense in your setting trying to prove an invalid point.

The game have to revolve somehow on the interests of the players and engage them with things relevant to their characters.
Saving the world from Evil McBad is fun the firsts times, if you end up always having to save the world from unrelated threads just because you need a fucking world to live it's boring as fuck.

>> No.41777989

>>41777408

You're the one missing the point by focusing on the detail instead of the message.

You don't always want to have heart to hearts with your players over what's going on in the world, because you don't always want your players to know certain things about the world at the time they're making characters. And you can't really approach the subject even with a "I don't think this would be a good idea" without giving away the game with the slightest bit of player resistance.

>The game have to revolve somehow on the interests of the players and engage them with things relevant to their characters.

But there's a long way from there and "you should give the character the chance to satisfy his every whim". I don't see why merely because between the characters, you have wants W,X,Y, and Z, that the plot should include all 4 of those at some point. Especially if any of them don't fit thematically with the rest of the world.

>> No.41778414

>>41777989
Why are the PC on that mission if they can't relate to anything?

What fun will have a player if he sees that the other players have things related to their PC but he doesn't?
Small ratios will feel like favoritism to the few, medium to big ratios will feel like abandonment.
Or you engage all the PC or you engage none, if it's the last why are you playing at all if the characters have nothing to do with the plot?

You seem to forget that the goal is to have fun together, I your players can relate to the story they are not going to have fun.

PS: In the dragon example. If you let the dragon hating barbarian then you certainly can't have dragons in the plot, because if it is something known that the dragons are like gods then the existence of the PC doesn't make sense, because the player doesn't know it, but the PC should. On the other side if you have no dragons related to the plot, why no tell him directly what a living person on your world should know about them?

>> No.41778477

>>41778414
>if your players can't relate to the story they are not going to have fun.
fixed

>> No.41778538

>>41778414
This.
You, the GM, have the right to pull a player aside and tell them "Look, bro, *for reasons you can choose to specify or not*, your character concept isn't gonna work out for this game. I ask you try another one".
It ain't hard, and being upfront with your players is always better.
As for OP, you, the GM, make the world. The players write the story of their adventures in the world, and you facilitate it by presenting them with situations to make the story exciting.

>> No.41778542

>>41775673

Are you honestly so autistic that you can't imagine a game that doesn't follow that one plot structure?

>> No.41778592

>>41778414

>Why are the PC on that mission if they can't relate to anything?

Why do you view this in a Manichean all or nothing, black and white framework? Unless a character has a grand total of one motivation, it's entirely probable that he can relate to something but still not have one of his goals being fulfilled.

>What fun will have a player if he sees that the other players have things related to their PC but he doesn't?

Who says that lack of engagement is limited to one character and that it's all of his ideas? Referring back to say, >>41777358 , if every character has multiple goals, you cull the ones that don't fit the rest of the setting, and there you go. Quite probably all of the characters have something that doesn't quite fit and gets swept under the rug, whereas the ones that are touched upon get developed more and become more important.

>Or you engage all the PC or you engage none, if it's the last why are you playing at all if the characters have nothing to do with the plot?

Engagement isn't a binary. I don't know why you keep assuming that it is.

>You seem to forget that the goal is to have fun together, I your players can relate to the story they are not going to have fun.

No, I'm not forgetting that. But you seem to imply that only by hitting the checklist of doing every single thing that every character puts on their character sheet for personal goals can you have fun. I don't agree with that.

>> No.41778638

>>41778414


>In the dragon example. If you let the dragon hating barbarian then you certainly can't have dragons in the plot, because if it is something known that the dragons are like gods then the existence of the PC doesn't make sense, because the player doesn't know it, but the PC should.

I don't see how. You have lots of people hating something and swearing revenge over an issue that they'll never have the power to back it up. Dragon sweeps through and burns down his temple/village/best friend, whatever. He swears revenge. That turns out to be enormously complicated, and will in fact have issues down the line when the fate of the world depends on getting dragon aid.


>On the other side if you have no dragons related to the plot, why no tell him directly what a living person on your world should know about them?

Because again, those two don't sync up. I did in fact tell the players at character generation what was "general knowledge". They always seem to come from the east, they usually travel in groups of 2-5, they almost always attack temples or clergymen, and often swoop down, burn things, and fly off, with nary a reason given why.


That's plenty to support knowledge of dragons, hatred of dragons, even a plan of revenge against dragons.


Again, why does the existence of a PCs want to kill a dragon entitle him to that opportunity? Just because he wants it?

>>41778538

I've never once gotten a blank request to change a character to work. Certainly not without asking why I wanted the character gone.

>> No.41778693

>>41778542

Of course not. But I've played tabletop for close to 15 years, on both ends of the screen, and the number of times that players are the ones who are really and truly driving the story, are the primary movers and the protagonist in the Flaubertian sense I can count on both hands.

Almost overwhelmingly, the players are either agents of some other group or person, or a reactive force to some villain. If you've had a profoundly different experience to mine, that's cool, but most groups I've talked to have had similar experiences to mine.

>> No.41778792

>>41778638
>I've never once gotten a blank request to change a character to work. Certainly not without asking why I wanted the character gone.
Fortunately, the GM has all the latitude in the world to do so without listing his reasons, which can be as vague as simple "Setting reasons".
Does it happen often? Course not, but the option is there for the GM to pursue.
>>41778693
It generally comes down to the individual player's drive, circumstances, and the nature of the setting.
For example, in a game I am in now, I am all about being a good guy. Not just a "good" guy, but the guy that donates to charities, volunteers his time to help in soup kitchens, helps addicts dry out.
Sure, there is a lot of shit going on, but he does his damndest to live up to his personal code of helping others, and this has driven the story for everyone involved.

>> No.41778844

>>41778592
>>41778638
On this post:
>The plot goes places that the PCs are interested in going.
>I'm not trying to be a confrontational ass, but why should this be the case?

This implies that your plot have 0 interest to the PC. It's not binary, you can fulfill some goals, acquire new one, some will never be fulfilled. But from your words what I understood was that some player may have nothing engaging.

And anyway, the major goal of a PC have to be related on the plot somehow, doesn't mean fulfill it, just get it involved.

And if you talk to your players they should not come with concepts that don't fit the world at all.

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