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51308578 No.51308578 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

How the hell do I both prepare ahead of time and not railroad? I'm not a damn supercomputer.

>> No.51308652

Design setpieces and plot points you want to cover. Then try to introduce them as organically as possible. If you can't fit a point in at one setpiece, do it at another. Don't put down a strict itinerary, because that will fall apart. Be flexible in your presentation of what you want to get across.

>> No.51308659

Create plot points and a bunch of data about those plot points. Here's an example:
>Demon boss fight
The party fucks out of the original starting town without finding the Necklace. They instead find it in the dungeon they were looting. It points signs to a cult nearby and it's urgency. If your players are not utter twats they'll pick up on this plot hook. They investigate the cult but for some reason pick the wrong town. Well they read the original map upside down so it's the right town! They kill cultists and find the altar somewhere. The altarstarts glowing and THEN the boss fight happens.

>> No.51308687

Literally fuck off and be a supercomputer.
If you're not planning the 20 most likely different paths that your party can take, you're not working hard enough.

>> No.51308763

DMing is a weighted 50/50 plan vs improv.

The planned part is like... Iunno. 20% of the adventure.
The improv part is the rest 80% of it.

The planned part is 80% of the importance
The Improv is 20% importance - With the caveat that you can keep it fun.

Barring Dungeon maps that span a few session if you are into that.

I don't know if the math works, but you should get what I'm saying.

>> No.51308829

Say your party is going to enter a town next session
>who are the most important people in the town?
>how do they feel about each other?
>what do they have access to?
>what's in the area around the town?
Combine with a generic dungeon template and a few random tables and you should be able to roll with it.

>> No.51308841


If they are invested in something from the start, it's much easier to run for them.

>> No.51308902

also, learn what you're players will go after.
Baiting is trick, don't need guiderails if their going to chase right after it.

>> No.51308904

Just prepare plot points you can plug in wherever and improvise the rest

>> No.51308910

Literally this

>> No.51308984

Here is what I do:
>Have some talking points, plan the session to start at point A, then plan point B, B1, and B2. B1 and B2 are B with adjustments for what you think the most likely other paths your players may take. Then plan point C where you want the session to end, but keep it a loose framework as by that point you may have diverged a lot
>keep a list of name for NPCs of races and cultures the PCs may encounter
>do the same for stores, inns, hotels, restaurants, etc.
>keep some fairly generic NPCs around
>keep some stat blocks around you can pull out for encounters
>do not be afraid to use a bit of randomization for stuff like what individuals are carrying on them

You can never really plan for your players saying in the first five minutes "fuck it lets buy a teleport across the continent and say fuck it to the story". You as a GM can steer players because players generally move in the direction of advancing plot. Players who actively scorn a plot of any kind either do not like your plot, something you should talk to them about, or hate any plot, and thus are shit players.

>> No.51308996


You set MOTIVES for your antagonists, NPC's and place them in conflict with your PC's.

Then you move their motives along in the same timeframe with the PC's. As the PC's interact and come into knowledge of the villains and NPC's you've set, then they have the ability to interact with and thwart or aid those motives.

You DON'T set up 'cutscene' plot points that just happen 'no matter what'. Everything is up in the air and solidifies as time goes on, which is bound to the pacing you set the encounters and what your party agrees on.

>> No.51309055

They lie. They always lie.

>> No.51309164

Don't actually do this. 99% of players can't actually handle NPCs or antagonists doing anything when not directly viewed. They throw shit fits.

>> No.51309165


But Quantum Ogres is bad.

>> No.51309214

Doing it this way in my experience provides a more balanced and enjoyable game than pure improve. Especially for combat as combat is not something you should often balance on the fly. At best you make balanced but bland combat, at worst you make unbalanced combat that ends the campaign right there.

>> No.51309242

Best advice you're going to hear: don't play D&D.

>> No.51309253

Middle anon, I never said quantum ogres. I said the exact opposite: have enough information on everything important that if they decide "we kill the king's brother's third son" you can figure out how that would be different from killing the queen's cousin's brother-in-law. Disclaimer: I do not advocate having details on a royal couple, their siblings, cousins, nephews, nieces, AND siblings-or-further-in-law. There is such a thing as too much detail.

>> No.51309259

Only if the players know about it.

>> No.51309278

Get an industrial spool of graphing paper and 100% freeform the entire adventure.

It's the RPG equivalent of a game of gnomic and it's fun.

>> No.51309331

Never reveal the railroad.

>> No.51309547

Quantum Ogres is where the party says what they do, and no matter what they do you go "K, well, suddenly Ogres".

This is distinctly different from weighing what the party says, and planning for them to run in to Ogres, either as an ambush on the road through the woods, demanding a toll on a bridge, or as river raiders. If the party plans a careful route, for example, going through the forest but traveling quietly and off the road, maybe they won't even see the Ogres, or maybe they'll hear the Ogres attacking a caravan? Maybe they forded the river and it just doesn't make sense for Ogres to be there.

Having a trick to minimize going completely from improv and wasting time trying to find statblocks in a panic is not a bad thing.

>> No.51309549

If you treat the game like a game rather than a story, you won't have problems with figuring out what should happen when players do what they want.

>> No.51309572

Here's a tip I haven't seen.

Repurpose your shit.

The goblin cave the party ignores is now the bandit den that they didn't ignore.

That cool boss enemy you wanted to use but the party never met him? Now he's a gladiator in the coliseum the party is competing in.

>> No.51309625

>The Ranger goes to the outhouse and discovers it's a multi-floor undead necropolis

>> No.51309653

I actually did this one. The latrine diggers had hit stone which then collapsed into a cave. The platoon was freaked the fuck out and they weren't sure what the fuck they should do because they knew tombs were all over the area. The decision was send in 2 clerics who channeled positive energy while being defended by some dudes.

>> No.51309661

It's gotta be appropriate.

The necropolis could now be a cursed castle full of chessmen.

>> No.51310279

-Create a world, roughly.
Run some mythology in dorf fortress, it's like that but less detailed. Some history here and there and landmarks would be cool
-Flesh out the world, slightly more details
A few kingdoms here and there, economical variables here, culture there, a few mad cults, etc. Don't break your head in the process, this is the most important part, you'll be able to handle more information until you're able to manage five civs with confidence.
-Make a few "dungeons" to practice
Actual dungeons should be rare, you're making lairs for creatures, hidden rooms for thieves, and shit. You can also design towns with the same philosophy and eventually more complex shit like labyrinths.
-Timeline. (this is the place where you're strict)
Goblin and orc invasion, steampunk revolt, lich reformist homolaws, evil dictator takes over with candy golems, all in a handy timeline.

If you followed somewhat the previous steps, then practice letting a few events happen, like a monster group going to town and shit, react to what your players do etc.

Once the setting is happening somewhere in your subconscious mind, buried between the system rules and NPC generic guard dialogue, THEN you do the calculations.

Always works.

>> No.51310385

>here's how to create a boring, generic D&D-ready shitheap of a setting
Ugh, you people are so dull it hurts.

>> No.51310491

have notes and an idea of where you're going to be and going to go, and dedicate the rest of it to improv. Make generic NPC encounters like bandits and kobolds, depending on the location you're at. Then roll for random encounters when travelling (I like using percentiles for this, I usually say there's a 30-40% chance that the party encounters something in a standardly populated location).

As long as you have an idea where you're going, you can improv most encounters with relative ease. I know you're a creative type, you can do it.

If you prepare material it's not necesarry that you hold it to the tee. Allow characters to go in a different direction and if they don't want to use the adventure, save it for later or for a different group or leave the hook open to explore later.
>we've hit a snag in our goal
>let's go back to bumfuck town and help them out with their kobold problem

In this case, I'd usually roll percentile to see if the problem has been dealt with, depending on how powerful the problem is.

>> No.51310567

Not as dull as you

>> No.51310593

My DM did exactly this. A few months into the campaign when mine was the only original living PC, unanimously chosen as leader, I just said "FUCK IT", and started going all doom-guy on everything we came into contact with, and it ALWAYS WORKED

>> No.51310698

>Literally NO U

Bravo sir! Excellent retort and scathing witticism! Truly, you are a master of the craft.

>> No.51310810

Write a general outline of what you want to happen, keeping things as vague as possible. Then write profiles for the major NPCs and organizations that the PCs are going to interact with. If you've done well enough with fleshing them out, then you should be able to have NPCs and factions organically act and react based on the situation and what the PCs do. (For example, if you set up a macguffin that would be very important to a cult, and the PCs decide to go after it, you know that the cult would probably try to stop and/or get their hands on the macguffin first).

>> No.51310992

Just come up with some areas and some characters and figure out what those are like, then use them to improvise.

>> No.51310998

Not exactly. Lying would imply that they know what they want in the first place.

>> No.51311030

Have multiple stories planned out, introduce the plot points that make sense at the time, and adjust the stories in between sessions as needed.

>> No.51311042

that's why it's less about asking them, than observing them.
When they fuck over what you thought was going to happen to do something else, look at what that something else was.

Pretty ladies, ships, dragons, gold, magic, blowing shit up, what is it that draw them.

Now you have the bait, the constant "general outline, NPCs and places, then react" is good, but baiting is also good.
If you know that player C will try to break into any locked chest they see, putting a locked chest in front of them is how you get the party to go where you want.

>> No.51311076

You're thinking too small. If you know that player C will try to break into any locked chest they see, drop some hints that there's a locked chest in the Tower of London, and you've got like a month's worth of sessions planning a heist.

>> No.51311085


You railroad them. You just don't let them know they're being railroaded.

Something that will help make this easier, you know all those dice rolls GMs have to make behind their screens? The players don't need to know what those dice rolls are for.

They also don't need to know the actual results.

>> No.51311145

Doomsday clocks.

Create three or four major factions with big, world changing goals. A cult to an ancient god, a conspiracy against the royal crown, an orc horde, whatever fits the mood of your campaign.

Plot out their major goals in steps, and make each of these steps an individual clock. Figure out how long these steps take to complete, and put an appropriate number of "ticks" on the clock.

Every session (or every ingame week if you want to track things in real time) that the players do not spend dealing with a faction's plots, tick that doomsday clock a step towards midnight. When the clock hits midnight, that step of the evil plan succeeds and whatever the consequences are take effect.

This way, no matter where the players are in the world or what they're doing, the long-term consequences of the plots you planned catch up with them and intersect with the business they've already gotten themselves involved in. If the players ignore your original hooks because they want to fuck off and become merchants, the unchecked growth of the orc hordes will eventually become a problem for their trade routes. If the players want to ignore the call to action and go over the mountains, eventually the coup in the nation they left will have consequences in the nations they leave to.

Let the story come to them through the consequences of a world that moves and breathes in the background, and you will never have to railroad again a day in your life.

>> No.51311165

true, but this is baby steps for newer GMs.

I mean in the end you can get two PCs to start a duel at the end of the mission, just by dropping the hint at the local tavern 4 sessions earlier. But that takes practice. Because if you do it well, they'll love you for it.

>> No.51311396
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Create the major plot hooks and leave everything else vague, that lets you drop them in anyway no matter what the players do

Personally I railroad the shit out of the first session so the PCs all have a reason to work together and a clear goal they need to complete instead of letting them just fuck off to wherever

>> No.51311881


>> No.51311924

Implying player know what they want.

>> No.51311931

What's the short version?

>> No.51312158

Plan in broad strokes, improve in the fine details, but more importantly:

Be a good enough DM that they never realize they ever got on the rails in the first place.

>> No.51312318

Haven't read it, but the Schrodinger bit is probably a reference to Quantum orcs:
>plan for players to encounter an orc to set up some later orc-related plotline
>players need to cross a mountain with a river on one side to get to the next town for supplies or whatever
>>players go to the river
>they approach a bridge over the rushing river when an orc comes up to them, demanding a fee to cross the bridge in safety
>>players go around the other side
>as they pass by a small wooded area, an orc emerges and demands to know what they're doing in his tribe's territory
>>players go through some old dwarven tunnels
>nearing the exit, they're noticed by an orc who'd been using some surface tunnels as a home. He decides he wants adventurer for dinner
>>players go over the mountain
>an orc is doing some odd tribal rite involving climbing all the way to the top. There is only one path, and he is going the opposite direction as the party
Essentially, be flexible enough to put what you want anywhere - it's not harsh railroading because, as far as the players know, the other ways were orc-free.
Don't know about the rest of it.

>> No.51312672

Just wing it, dude. Chill.

>> No.51313652

Is there any way to send characters or have characters start out in prison and have it not be railroading? I usually GM games where the police forces and town guard are fairly competent and know what they're doing, so my PCs end up getting NPC'd into a prison a lot of the time when they don't follow the law and the other PCs don't want to break them out.

Am I a railroading GM if the cops are competent? How do I prevent my PCs from being jailed if they're constantly doing illegal shit?

>> No.51314231

Yet you fail to provide any reason or solution, shame on your flag anon

>> No.51314315

I don't think you understood my point, or I didn't communicate it well enough.
The point of the practice is to make interactions matter and to give the PC's a 'say'. Don't just do everything off screen, but do the 'big things' on screen so players can see and interact, don't write it in stone and get mad when the players don't follow the hook.

If your players are throwing shit fits when your form is as well as you can make it and you're trying to make a good game for everyone, then find new players.

>> No.51314519
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>Improvise/prep with 10 minutes for whole sessions
>Still railroad

>> No.51314542

Quantum Ogres is only bad if the players realise it is happening

Protip: Players have no fucking idea what they want. Railroading is perfectly fine as long as nobody notices the tracks, the plot is just a vehicle to create character and setting interaction anyway.

As always, practise the most reasonable path.

>> No.51315809

>How do I prevent my PCs from being jailed if they're constantly doing illegal shit?
Tell them that they go to jail when they commit a crime in an area where the police do their job.
If they don't want to sit around in jail, don't crime or avoid getting caught.

>> No.51316618

Don't force your players to go towards the plot.
Put the plot wherever your players go.

>> No.51316639
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>> No.51317238

Give them an equally competent criminal contact that owes them a favor or something and can give advice on avoiding the guards during whatever illegal endeavor they've chosen. Perhaps let them know that if they go to this guy, he can get the cops off their tail for a significant price.

Or you can make individual guards less competent than the force acting as a whole would suggest. Give them a warning with Frank Drebin before you sic Robocop on them.

>> No.51317263


Practice. Make /qst/ threads like crazy.

>> No.51317311

I mean, you could get a whole campaign's worth of material out of a D&D Jailbreak.

>> No.51318989

Prepare notable NPCs of the location (like a couple guard officers in case they get involved in some shit, some other civic leaders, some shadier personas, etc), plus a list of names and random small traits for bit-time NPCs for you to pull on randomly (i.e. PCs want some pie, you open book, pick two randoms and write down for the future "Baker, named Soandso, has a broken nose" while describing to the party.)

Don't be so banal about it tho.

That one's tolerable, plothook item can be found anywhere
>quantum town/read the map wrong
That one's bad. Just have them find a smaller cell of the cult in town#2, pointing them to town#1.

>> No.51319790

Have you ever thought maybe you're not cut out for DMing?

>> No.51319908

But it's the only game my players will all agree on.

>> No.51320121

Drop a few different paths for your players to follow so they at least have the illusion of choice.
Consider how your players think, and what they'd probably do.
Lay out bulletpoints, but leave plenty of room for improvisation.

>> No.51320122

You can go even beyond that and figure out the basic premise of the campaign, before character creation.
Then rest is trivial. If you know that the point of the game is to be bunch of adventurers hired to kill a dragon, you always know what the main goal of characters is and plan accordingly.

>> No.51320143

Have you tried asking your players "hey, guys, do you want to get in jail? Because if you do illegal shit in town, you gonna get in jail."

And then, if they say they know the risks and take them willingly, then throw them in jail.
Time to jail game of hoping you don't get shanked.

>> No.51320223

So you tell them what kind of campaign you want to run, and gauge their interest. The more evocative you make the explanation of your premise, the more likely they are to grok what kind of game you're planning, and roll with it.

>> No.51320366

Its so much easier with lewd games - those DO know what exactly they want.

>> No.51320556
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>"b-b-bro it's all improv!"

All of you are fucking n00bs, here's what you do:

>ask to see character sheets
>take a pic
>remember their alignment
>remember their skills
>base game around all of that shit
>they inevitable use their skills
>or don't
>improv only necessary when doing shit like dialogue
>just RR if they get too far of course

Simple as that famalamadingdong. RR is honestly fine if it's ruining the game. Nobody should be (nor are they) expected to be able to plan a fully playable brand new campaign based around some random ass tangent the players are deciding to go on. What the hell do you think the DM's job is anyway? Don't be afraid to put your foot down and tell your group no if they start to get into "lol so randumb XD" territory.

Also fuck any salty cucks that think otherwise who will inevitably reply to me and believe the DM is a slave to the group lol

>> No.51320563

This isn't a generic solution for every campaign, but I wanted to tell a specific story whilst allowing my players complete freedom so they start in a fort surrounded by a foggy cursed forest that always leads them back to the playing area.
They don't seem to mind the forest limitation because I was able to create such an interesting focused world for them to explore within the boundaries of it.

>> No.51320952

Build outlines, not details.

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