Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday #6

There was a time when I came up with the techniques (Magician's Choice, etc.) to railroad the players on my own (I'd never heard the term or even heard/read anyone talking about it in any context at the time). Back then, I would have defended Railroading until the bitter end. It just made sense. A GM made NPCs, maps, encounters, locations, scenarios. How else could you get the PCs to these awesome set-pieces? Nowadays, I really do not like Railroading. There are two reasons for it:
1) it really obviated the need for roleplaying. if the characters are going to be at spot X No matter what they do, then there is no need to get clues or befriend NPCs.
2) Was an experience I had as a GM. I made a pretty big dungeon. It had a logic to it. Each of the rooms had a purpose. The inhabitants had a reason to work together. the players got to a new town and someone asked them to retrieve an heirloom stolen by bandits. The reward was generous and the requester surely could not complete it on their own. The players politely declined. Soon, they left the town and were on the road. A road that led to a mysterious ruin. They went the other way. A way that lead to a mysterious underground cavern. At that point, the game broke down. I explained how much work I put into it and asked what the problem was. The players had logical explanations. One player had a Cavalier whose powers relied on him being on horseback. The other had a Druid that relied on being outdoors for most of their spells. Finally, we had an archer, who was less effective in the confines of dungeon hallways. I decided at that point never to railroad my players again. It was tough, I needed to learn some new skills, but it has paid off consistently. Now I can't really accept it when a GM tries to defend the practice.

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