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/tg/ - Traditional Games


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49124313 No.49124313 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

My games never seem to get past a few sessions. My friends always seem to have a good time, but after two or three games we never play it again. So I guess my question is: How do DM's keep a game going long term?

Also, please feel free to post anything related to general DM organization and improvement!

>> No.49124339

>>49124313
motivated players, sometimes players just don't want to play a long running game. You have to find the right people for a long running campaign.

>> No.49124876

>>49124313
By being a scheduling nazi and not inviting flakes to the next game I run.

That said, I think the long-running campaign is put on a pedestal a lot by /tg/. Its nice, but especially when you're starting out you're better off running lots of shorter campaigns and oneshots so you can try out different systems and groups to quickly learn about all the different kinds of TRPG out there

>> No.49124928

>>49124313
Shit happens Op, but I can relate. Most people can't devote the time anymore. I'd consider learning how to plan on roll20, it works for me who lives out in the middle of bumfuck nowhere.

>> No.49126159

It's all about scheduling

Also sometimes players can get burnt out and want to mix things up

>> No.49126408

>>49124313
It needs to be habitual. You need everyone there, every time for the first five sessions I'd say. You need to make sure that if someone asks player 1 if they have plans during your game player 1 will say yes.

>> No.49127131

How much railroading should I do and how should I do it?

I want to have them reach to goal and I've even made multiple ways for them to reach it. Each way also has some kind of important character that based off who you meet first will decide on how you view the goal.

>> No.49127252

>>49127131
Railroading shouldn't be done too often. If your players aren't total cunts they will take hints given to them and follow the story you've crafted. By creating multiple paths to get there you're already A+ material in my book.

>> No.49127310

>>49127131

Railroading is only shitty when it removes player agency.

You have multiple ways to reach the thing so you are already golden.

>> No.49127451

>>49124313
i dunno
maybe read this
it's by the guy that made Unknown Armies

>> No.49127502

>>49124313
It's really impossible for me to know what the problem is. You could just have fickle players or ones who aren't particularly devoted to role-playing. They like the idea and all, but it just doesn't quite hold their attention long-term. There are plenty of people out there who dream big, but always get distracted along the way.

Or it could be that you, in particular, are failing to inspire them. It could be that your GMing is lackluster, or it could be that your style doesn't jibe (enough) with your players', or that you're running a different kind of game than what they'd find ideal (maybe they want madcap and lulz, and you're trying to run something they find stodgy and overly serious).

If you manage to get two or three games in though, and your players seem content enough during those sessions, I suggest you try out short arc adventures that last for two or three sessions apiece. That way, you can complete an arc, and even if you don't get to play again, you didn't have to stop in the middle of a story. This can also help things move faster, which might increase their interest, as they never feel like they're just treading water. The end is always in sight.

And you know what I was saying about some players dreaming big but lacking commitment? Well, if you've completed an arc, it's sort of like you're starting a new game, at least if you pause things afterwards. So if you play once a week, skip a week or two after you complete a campaign to let people build their enthusiasm back up. Use the extra time for prep.

>> No.49128476

>>49127131
>I want to have them reach to goal and I've even made multiple ways for them to reach it. Each way also has some kind of important character that based off who you meet first will decide on how you view the goal.
That's fine. Now the questions are:
DO the players want to reach the goal? You need to make sure they don't just fuck off to be pirates or someshit.
What will be your reaction if they progress towards the goal in a way you didn't foresee? You should be ready to adapt and adjust.

>> No.49128518

>>49124313
Read this.

>> No.49128522
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49128522

>>49124313
And also read this.

>> No.49128526

>>49124313
Talk with your players. Talking is key: ask them if they found something in particular nice, if there was something that threw them off or they didn't enjoy.

Ask, ask and ask some more! Ask them if they enjoyed themselves. If they have any plans for their PCs they would like to realize. If they want the game to go somewhere in particular.

Another thing you could do is record yourself GMing and then listen to the session again after a day or two, to find out some areas you can improve: maybe you sounded insecure when giving an NPC a voice, perhaps you were trailing off when setting the scene a little bit too much or maybe you were being unclear on what an enemy was doing regarding another player character in a combat round.

>> No.49128542

>>49124313
>My games never seem to get past a few sessions.

Failing everything else it could just be your group. Not everyone wants campaigns spanning months and years of actual play.

>> No.49128603
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49128603

>>49124313
Campaigns need to be written out at least to the point that you have an idea where it starts, what happens and roughly how it will end.

1. Get your PC's, make up characters, get some motivations off them, then the first few games are just them getting to know each other. Start small
2. Shit happens, the PC's do stuff, someone/something comes along and fucks it all up. Basically chase them up a tree and throw rocks at the cunts until they either come down and fight or fall.
>They should be at least motivated to stop this as the something/someone ruins everything they like
3. The end- they got xps and go hunt down the something/someone and fuck it up

Step 2 can also have some freeform-sandbox, character wants/needs mixed in- just make sure that once they're attached to whatever they're doing, then shit all over it with the enemy coming along and fucking it up

>> No.49128648

>>49128526
>Ask, ask and ask some more!
It can't hurt to try this, but I have to say that a lot of players frankly don't know what they want or are incapable of articulating it. I've seen players lobby hard for something that ends up ruining their enjoyment of the game, and even at the end of it all, I don't think they realize what happened. And when people complain about something, it's frequently displaced criticism, and the real buzzkill for them is something else, but they just aren't perceptive enough to see it. I know I sound like I'm being snooty and judgmental here, but people are shockingly bad at evaluating shit that involves them.

>> No.49128697

How do I hint to players that the thing they're doing is fruitless?
I don't mean to railroad, sometimes one or rarely two of my players will get an idea in their head and keep trying to do it despite constant failures. I want to let them experiment but I also don't want to waste 15 -30 minutes having one guy search for a proverbial wild goose when the solution is much simpler, or hasn't even been revealed yet.

>> No.49128826

>>49127131
Invisible rails.

>> No.49128855

>>49128697
Make them roll for common sense

>> No.49128862

>>49127131
Read the PDF in >>49128518 for what you need to know. Suffice to say, you shouldn't need to bolt them to rails, you should just be offering them paths and see which road they choose to head down. Letting them choose the path is more engaging for them and they're more likely to see a story through.

>> No.49128866

>>49128697
Sometimes you can just fast-forward time: "Okay, you try that for hour, but you don't seem to be gaining any traction, and as time wears on, it becomes increasingly clear that it's not going to work because of X."

I also like to have an NPC in every party to state the obvious. They are a secondary player when it comes to setting the party's agenda, but they can occasionally be the voice of reason. In your scenario, that NPC can say something along the lines of "Hey man, this isn't working. We need to try a new approach. While we're wasting time on this, we risk being set upon by a wandering monster, or worse yet, by reinforcements for the forces we've slaughtered."

>> No.49129123

>>49124876
The thing is, you want it to run the original length you plan, whatever it is.

I'm fine with one offs and short, 3 session campaigns, but there are stories that can't be told in them. So if you day, okay, thus particular one is intended to be a long campaign, is everyone down for that, and then they're gone by session 3, it means you'be just barely got to introduce the main conflict.

>> No.49129143
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49129143

>>49124313

>> No.49129174

>>49128518
Here's the slightly updated version.

>> No.49129236

>>49128866
Thanks!
When I was thinking back on scenarios where it's been an issue I found almost every time it was one player too. I don't want to scorn his creativity, but also don't want him to be the only one who can get a word in. I'll try this out next game and see how he takes it.

>> No.49129252

>>49129123
Sure. I'm just suggesting short campaigns be the norm instead of vice versa. It's more achievable and thus more satisfying.

>>49129174
>>49128518
>It’s only railroading if the players notice
This is commonly accepted but I don't think its true.

Adapting your material to fit the situation as suggested in >>49128522 is good and might be what some people mean by the "player noticing". The important distinction to make is whether or not you're letting player decisions change the game world and "story".

If you consider your game to have a set story in the first place that might be a sign you're railroading. RPGs have themes and genres, and a story in hindsight. But no 'plot', the very word implies it was planned out beforehand.

>>49129236
Changing the time scale and the scale of action is a great way to make sure the pace goes smoothly. A single roll doesn't have to be for a single action.

>> No.49129362

>>49129252
Sure, but i've had games fall apart before their first session, and been in several that couldn't last all the way through their first.

I'm just so sick of making characters then wasting them on false starts, both as a player and a dm.

And it's different groups, so it's not like it's the people.
I'd assume that I was the common factor, and it's something about myself, but i've also seen it happen to games my friends are in.

>> No.49129369

>>49129252
>single roll doesn't have to be for a single action.
This is in fact one of the main reasons for passive checks in 5e, and taking 20 in 3.5, simulating repeated efforts over long stretches of time

>> No.49129402

im about to start a campaign for friends irl, im by no means a pro ive played pathfinder a bit online and with other groups but never dmed

ive got a setting worked out and plenty of events and quests and a story they can choose to follow but something that i never saw done real well is getting the party together

i dont have the character sheets yet so i dont have backstorys but since they are new players im not expecting anything good except from maybe 1 person who will probably write a page or two, whats a creative way to get them together i was thinking having the rogue and tiefling be tied up in the taverns basement as awfully big rats to deal with

tl:dr without using backstory whats tge best way to get a party together

>> No.49129441

>>49128855
What if they fail?
Or is telling them to roll the actual purpose, and not any kind of roll?

>> No.49129499

>>49129402
Tell the players to make characters that have a reason to be together.

>> No.49129500

>>49129362
>games fall apart before their first session

Well that's just your group being flakes.

Sure part of GMing is organising people and their expectations, and I do believe that its easier to get people hype and committed to shorter games than "lets spend quite a few hours every week from now till forever doing this". But you can only go so far, you need reliable people who genuinely enjoy the hobby and realise there's ups and downs in the excitement and quality of sessions.

>>49128697
>>49128866
The best way to deal with this is to have their efforts turn up some additional clues as to a way forward.

>>49129402
This is why you should always do a session 0 character generation thing together. PCs interweave their backstories, the GM links it into the plot and gets a heads up on how to design sessions to hook the characters. But since its too late...

Start in medias res. Don't worry about how the party came together, they're together now and in trouble. If combat's your thing start as they're getting attacked, or in the middle of a negotiation, or lost in the middle of a forest with supplies dwindling. Nothing makes binds like shared hardship, everyone's there to have an adventure just skip right to it.

>> No.49129542

It's weird. I just had a session yesterday, I had prepared a lot of stuff. Admittedly, it started a bit slow, but they were (literally) propelled into the thick of it pretty quickly.

My 3 players were so... sluggish. That's the best way to describe the session. It was our third session and that's the first time it happened, too.

I really tried to make them move, tried to make them excited and all... I had a skill challenge (saving a NPC from nets before giant crabs get to him), a combat encounter (that went pretty fucking close too, normally that'd get the players feeling intense) and a pretty nifty puzzle.
They insisted a NPC came with them, so I even got to roleplay a bit of a buffoon, too. Nice fighter and all, but not the brightest.

Don't get me wrong I didn't feel like they weren't enjoying their time. They were definitely laughing throughout. But I don't like to be the one to have to make 70% of the effort during the damn session.

I know that sounds silly, but could it be because all 3 of them were in a couch, playing on a short table? It kinda felt like they were dozy.

Next session (monday) I'm not taking any chance and definitely insisting we play on a regular table with regular chairs. Ugh.
Maybe get a fourth player in here...

>> No.49129595

>>49129542
Atmosphere/setting is important, yeah. Couch could've done it. Too hot? Eat a bunch before?

It might just be a general player proactivity problem. This was the your third session ever with the group? Were the first 2 sessions more dangerous and confined than the third?
I ask because if they were, it would've given them a definite thing to latch on and react to, which they might be lacking in the third - so now they're unsure what to do. If this is the case, it might just be because they're new or not used to having strongly self-driven characters.

>> No.49129748

>>49129500

all 5 are friends i told them to make them connected i just have a feeling they wont ill probably do session 0 tomorrow two of the guys will probably be independent on it and be able to use the d20 site to make something happen i just dont want to write their backrounds for them or force anything other than i dont want the couples being romantically entagled theyre disgusting enough irl with the lovey dovey stuff i dont want it at the table

>> No.49129770

>>49129500
They won't hype for short campaigns though. They see it as too much hassle for not enough fun.
Which is stupid because they'll have to do the same amount of work and scheduling, and only ever come to the same number of games, only the story will be barely started instead of satisfyingly complete. They overvalue long running status, despite never actually enjoying its benefits.

>> No.49129867

>>49129770
What if you just framed short campaigns as "make characters with relatively short term goals" so you can still sell it as potential long-running, but to start with it's short-term?

Then if you keep it up, it can become a long-term thing but by default it's short so can can tell a satisfying tale out of the gate.

Doesn't help if your goal is to intentionally swap systems or characters, or if you want their goals to be a bit "final" in nature.

>> No.49129917

>>49129542
I'm having the same issue with my players as well and I feel like it 's just a downside of playing with a small party. In a party of 3, if one or two people aren't enthusiastic or creative players it sucks the energy out of the group. My party for instance pretty much relies on one player to come up with solutions to things, and if he can't think of anything they'll very slowly half-ass an attempt to be diplomatic before deciding to beat the shit out of the problem. You can try as you might to be enthusiastic as the DM but they're more likely to follow the lead of their allies than yourself, it's just human nature.

I've more or less came to the same conclusion you have. I plan to add an extra player who I know for a fact to be a very lively, creative guy who I think will spur them on to be more proactive as a group. Sometimes just one more positive voice in the group can tip the scales towards everyone being more willing to engage.

>> No.49129946

>>49124876
This. More the second part. Instead of "running campaigns," why not do a series of one shots in different settings/game systems? Inspecters is pretty damn fun

Also, a bit of game philosophy:each session should feel like an individual "episode," with a 3 act structure and a satisfying ending. some DMs get really caught up in "the big picture." Get away from this. Take about ten steps backwards and play each individual session. If you and your players like the "big guns and crazy magic" style of play, don't wait ten sessions to do it! Start them at level 1, or hell, play Mage!

>> No.49130397

>>49129946
>Also, a bit of game philosophy:each session should feel like an individual "episode," with a 3 act structure and a satisfying ending. some DMs get really caught up in "the big picture." Get away from this.
Hmmm.

I think this would benefit my group greatly.

>> No.49130573

>>49130397
>>49129946
>3 act structure
More importantly just keep the pace going at all times. If stuff is stalling end the scene quickly and move to the next interesting thing. If everyone is really into what's going on draw it out and milk it.

The concept of Acts is the takeaway here, not necessarily the number or structure of them.

Personally I like to stagger things so that sessions end in cliffhangers and start again in the thick of it. Downtime in-game can coincide with a mid-session break.

>each session should feel like an individual "episode"
That'll happen naturally if you do a good job. Though I'm a sucker for doing "last time on [RPG name]" recaps. Usually from the perspective of an NPC that paints the PCs in bad light.

>don't wait ten sessions to do it
Very good advise. You should be hitting the main themes/concepts of your game every session all session.

>> No.49130617

OP Here: I'm getting great advice here! Went to bed and woke up to find some great resources. Still reading a lot of them, but please keep them coming :)

Its a shame that most high concept games have such a short self life when it comes to player interest. But I typically run your usual fantasy rpg; sometimes a modern V:TR game. wouldnt that lend itself to habitual play; running a fairly familiar format/setting?

>>49124928
Good advice on roll20, I too live middle of bumfuck nowhere. the player pool is pretty limited, I just have a hard time engaging in RP online.

>> No.49130646

>>49124876
As a newish player, I have to agree with this. My group has three campaigns running currently. One shorter one on Saturday that is an hour or two long. One on every other Sunday due to a players schedule and another one on the inbetween Sundays due to another players schedule.

The first campaign we had until level 3 to fuck around before selecting a class that we actually liked. All three campaigns are planning to be super long campaigns, which I don't mind, but fuck I want to try out some of the classes and stuff.

>> No.49130709

>>49130573
What they do in tv is story arc, with cliffhanger/setup for next episode after this episode's resolution, and a recap at the beginning of the next.

Seems like something to steal.

How do you handle character level progression during your breaks though? It's an important part of downtime, but it always seems to tame too long to do in-game, which is why we typically save downtime for the end, so everyone can make all their leveling up decisions on their own time then be ready next time we reconvene.

>> No.49130804

>>49130709
>character level progression
I don't play rules heavy systems, and I usually like having strong RP attached to mechanical changes. So a level up would be a training montage for the different PCs over the course of a month.

>levelling up decisions
Make sure people have heads up "we're probably levelling up next session" so they make the decisions beforehand I guess.

Or, y'know, try not playing DnD

>> No.49130986

>>49130804
I used leveling up as a generic term. Any system where your characters increase in mechanical ability have some sort equivalent, be it points to spend, stats to increase, or new traits to think up and write down.

DnD has nothing to do with it.

>> No.49131688

>>49129252
>If you consider your game to have a set story in the first place that might be a sign you're railroading.
This is true.

The fact remains that any GM that gives the players no guidance is bad while, on the other end of the spectrum, not letting player decisions change the game world and "story" is also bad.
Guiding the players without them noticing is a good marker for being halfway.

Also, true "Railroading" without anyone noticing is a difficult feat.

>> No.49131782

>>49124313

I have no idea how to deal with "wacky" players, and I usually wind up booting them from my games; not immediately for the antics, but it just doesn't wind up fitting, you know? And I know I've lost what could have been decent players to this, as well as created unnecessary friction.

I don't even railroad, or anything, and I do have a sense of humor (or so I think), but while I plan for all sorts of contingencies, when players start

>Throwing pies at the city's mayor
>Trying to deal with gnoll raiders by getting the bard to prostitute himself to them
>Throwing stinking cloud spells all over the town sheriff and his office
>Suggesting that the king and queen in a royal marriage to end a war swap bodies every 6 months to help each other keep perspective
>Institute a law that makes codpiece wearing mandatory, for both genders

I have trouble not reacting through my NPCs negatively, often with hostility. I get that this is fun for some people in an intellectual sense, but I don't know, i can't suspend my worldbuilding that far. Any tips?

>> No.49131840

>>49131782
Tips? I'd say to talk to them and say you want to be more serious. I don't think I could play in, much less DM, some ...slapstick clown humor game.
I don't think anybody would fault you for just "this game isn't for you and I can't provide what you want, please leave"

If you really want to accommodate such people, then all that can really be done is you try to really get into the humor with them, and start taking it less seriously like they do, somehow.

>> No.49134924

>>49131782
Yeah, I couldn't take something like that either. My only advice is to talk to your players about the game's tone and level of seriousness before you start a campaign. Explain that you just aren't into silliness and intend for the world to react in a realistic fashion to player actions. That way, you're cluing everybody in to what to expect without singling somebody's actions out (because they haven't had any yet) and making them defensive.

>> No.49135088

>>49131782

Just kick em from the group. Maybe give them the heads up that you are trying for a more serious game than what they want and if they don't like that then they can find another game.

Otherwise you slap them with the good-ol' "realism" stick and they have to deal with the repercussions of their actions.

>> No.49135401
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49135401

I've run a campaign that took a little less than a year but that's the entirety of my GMing experience. The setting is entirely homebrewed since I was afraid I would get something wrong in the lore when running a well known and established setting. The group I'm in has no experience outside of me and they're my buddies before we started. Now, people barely miss sessions. People seem engaged. We are starting a new campaign in the same setting and everyone is still on board and seems excited. Yet through this I still get this gnawing feeling on the back of my head that people are playing this as a favor to me since I was the one who proposed it. Things like people making their characters day of, telling me one day before or day of that they can't make it, and general unwillingness to RP despite the fact that I went out of my way to attempt amateur voice acting with every NPC to make sure no one had an excuse to be embarrassed. Am I over analyzing every little inconvenience to me or is this the way GMs are supposed to feel?

Also goddamn, it feels hard to GM for 5 different people. I go crazy thinking of a way to include everyone all the time to the point where often I feel people don't wind up having truly significant moments to shine as a result. How do you still have those moments while not letting them feel left out?

>> No.49135776

>>49135401
As someone coming from a mixed group, some people don't want to RP. Talk to the group. If they just want to hack and slash, let them.

I have two players that I basically have to even make every level option for them, but they roll with it. They engage in combat and phase out inbetween. They don't care to RP, the story is mildly interesting, they said they don't want to quit. They enjoy it, even if they aren't playing "the full game".

>> No.49139471

bump?

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