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Getting players to do what you want


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#1 reg

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 08:27 PM

How do you get players to do what you want them to do?

 

 This is a bit of a perennial problem. You don’t want them to just follow your script, but you also don’t want them suddenly blitzing off to rob a stagecoach and assassinate a random dignitary. Personally I’ve got to the stage now where as long as the vibe is right (very much Low Fantasy in my campaigns [cheap tickets/winds of change]) I’m happy - plot inconsistencies are pretty easy to fudge with players having a good time, and mainly go way over my players heads. Specifically, I reward play I enjoy not just in game, but with compliments etc - child psychology 101 is very much de rigeur - and leave less enjoyable play to wither on the vine. Corruption is now a huge help - its unlikely any of my players will get a mutation as its so much fun to chuck in corruption points to move along the story, and illness/hangovers and accidents all have their place. 

How about you?



#2 Emirikol

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 08:43 PM

I'm going to use corruption for permanent insanities (for races that would normally get mutations) instead of just mutations.  I've discovered that players think that Marks and Mutations are BENEFITS.  Sure, there's that witch hunter crap, but that never is going to happen and they know it.

 

To keep them in line (for all game systems), I just throw so many rumors and events at them that all interrelate, that they don't have to think about going elsewhere.

 

jh



#3 Ralzar

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 03:37 AM

The technique I am finding that works best for me is to not want the players to do anything. Don't get me wrong; if the game is set up with the premise that they are a group of heroes with the mission "Rescue the Princess", I expect them to try to rescue the princess. And I have players who generally get on board with the story, particularly if I inform them in my descriptions why their character might be motivated to do what I expect them to do.

What I have mostly stopped doing though, is trying to predict *how* they are going to save the princess. Assuming ahead of time what the players will do easily leads to railroading, or the players getting stuck because they can't seem to figure out how YOU thought they should rescue the princess.

So what I have been doing more and more, is to just write situations or stories and then let the players blunder into it and see what happens. I just make a few rough notes about the NPCs that include their motivations (what they want and why they want it) and some notes about any important locations and the current situation, and I'm pretty much ready to go.

The important difference here, is that I know what will happen if the players do nothing. I can not know for sure ahead of time what the players will do, so I have stopped trying to predict it. If the players decide to just sit in a bar and drink for the whole session or just blatantly ignore any plot hooks thrown their way, I know what will happen. If they try to solve the adventure but fail miserably, I know what will happen. If they come up with some ingenious solution I did not think of, I don't get thrown off my game because I did not have a planned way for them to solve it.

 

Basically I make adventures like this now:

 

1: Put problems in front of the players

2: Throw a bunch of tools and materials around the area

3: See what the players make of it

 

 

Disclaimer: No princesses are rescued in my games.


Edited by Ralzar, 05 April 2014 - 03:41 AM.


#4 Emirikol

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 08:05 AM

I think many GMs are very creative and hence they can create really cool stuff on the fly.

 

The art is this:

Really cool situations on the fly need to relate their creativity and the players to the plot.  If you don't, players are essentially taught, like Pavlov's Dogs, that going off the rails is more fun than staying with the boring, stale, forced plot.

 

Example:

Find and rescue the princess from some crazy merchant in Altdorf.

[players yawn and say "I go start a Bar Fight."]

GM, on the fly has this happen:

  • while fighting, a guy punching them in the head says, "and that one's for the princess."
  • the city watch shows up and throws them all in the clink. While in jail, the guy they were fighting spills his guts (barfs up clues about the princess and is interested in helping).
  •  A drunk in the next cell over bemoans working for a merchant who keeps girls in his basement and has lots of money, but never pays his guys..and then passes out.


#5 Mental-Mouse

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 09:29 AM

I use my knowledge in psychology and manipulate them expertly!

 

Mwhahahahahahahaha!



#6 Emirikol

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 09:52 AM

I've found that not just staring at them and asking them, "So, what do you want to do?", and instead asking the following works better:

  • Do you want to investigate the missing elf north of town?
  • Do you want to talk to the Verena priest about that issue with the 9 pins?
  • or, do you want to do something else?

At least that gives them direction, but still gives them the "other" option.

 

I know some GMs will let you sit there for 14 hours without a clue, bored to flakkin tears, pounding your head against the wall because you didn't write down some clue 7 months ago...but I'm not one of those GMs and would highly advise all GMs to avoid that approach ;)


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#7 Ralzar

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 01:57 PM

I usually make sure my players have some kind of motivation. If nothing else, they usually either want more food, better equipment or to survive the session. Then I just need to give them options for how to reach those goals or put some kind of problem in their way that blocks the goal(s).

Next session will be sort of interesting though. They are reaching a big town where they do not really have a goal, so I will introduce NPCs who have goals of their own; A merchant caravan heading west to their tribes lands where there are rumors of a major war brewing, a mercenary band heading east to join the raiding northward in the winter and an expedition leader with a map and some texts that will (when translated) show a hidden entrance to an abandoned dwarf hold in the south. The players could wind up joining up with any of these groups, and that will then define the direction of the campaign for some time to come.

I won't actually spell out for them what the choices are though. Heck they might even ignore one or more of the NPCs and never realize the option is there. I'll just let them go whichever way catches their interest. And then make them regret it  ;)


Edited by Ralzar, 06 April 2014 - 01:58 PM.


#8 Emirikol

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 05:12 PM

I just TPK'd a party (well, all knocked unconscious..and later healed by Shallyan).  They woke up without their stuff.  That was fun motivation to see on my Son's face today.  "What do you mean I don't have my sword!?!?!"  Motivation came on stronger than if I'd have killed his character!



#9 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 04:54 PM

I'm going to use corruption for permanent insanities (for races that would normally get mutations) instead of just mutations.  I've discovered that players think that Marks and Mutations are BENEFITS.  Sure, there's that witch hunter crap, but that never is going to happen and they know it.

 

Really? That's sooooo far from my experience.

 

Some random mutant in Averhiem got a comet on an attack action that says "the target has to make a resilience check or mutate." Our priest of Ranald blew her test, and her Gambler reroll, so she grew feathers (+1 defense, +black on social). She spent her next XP on the disguise blessing and uses it every morning. Despite that very reliable illusion, the party still goes to extreme efforts to make sure she and Adele Ketzenblum are never in the same room. It's kinda funny.


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#10 k7e9

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 12:53 AM

 

I'm going to use corruption for permanent insanities (for races that would normally get mutations) instead of just mutations.  I've discovered that players think that Marks and Mutations are BENEFITS.  Sure, there's that witch hunter crap, but that never is going to happen and they know it.

 

Really? That's sooooo far from my experience.

 

Some random mutant in Averhiem got a comet on an attack action that says "the target has to make a resilience check or mutate." Our priest of Ranald blew her test, and her Gambler reroll, so she grew feathers (+1 defense, +black on social). She spent her next XP on the disguise blessing and uses it every morning. Despite that very reliable illusion, the party still goes to extreme efforts to make sure she and Adele Ketzenblum are never in the same room. It's kinda funny.

 

I have to agree with r_b regarding corruption and mutation. If a player gets a mutation (or chaos mark) I'd say that the player will have to hide it. If it's noticed, and then they will probably be executed.

 

In my gaming group it would probably be the rest of the group who would do the killing of the "offending" PC who had "gone over to chaos". Thus you'd have to hide it from everyone, even your friends. So my players keep their corruption in their boxes, so that the others won't know for sure if and what mutation you've got (as a GM, I know obviously).

 

Even if Witch Hunters are probably the worst nightmare of a mutant, a mob of frightend/angry commoners with pitchforks and torches can be just as lethal. It doesn't have to be a Witch Hunter, anyone in the empire is justified to kill a mutant. If someone learns about a mutant is many would try to either kill it. preferably in a mob,  or alert the athorities such as a Witch Hunter, Priest of Sigmar, city watchman et. You do not want to risk beeing seen as keeping a mutant secret, that's almost a big a crime as beeing a mutant.

 

And that's not taking the emotional trauma of the person beeing mutated into acount ("have the chaos gods noticed me? Oh, crap!").

 

So becoming a mutants life should be hazardous, hard and generally crap, not viewed as a benifit. There's a reason most mutants flee their homes and live secluded alone or with other mutants. The small mechanical bonus gained from the different mutations should not outweigh the stigma.



#11 arscott

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 03:34 PM

The GM is not a chaos god.  You don't get to hand out corruption because players do something you don't like.  It's unfair to the players and it's unfair to the setting.

 

If your players are robbing stagecoaches, cool.  That happens all the time in the warhammer world.  And WFRP is not a game where players play sinless heroes.  It's a game where they make dark messy choices.  The only choices that should be leading to corruption are ones that actually deal with the actual corruptive influences.

 

If your players are doing something that you don't want to handle, that's a conversation that needs to be had in an out-of-character space.  Maybe you're not comfortable GMing for characters that rob and murder innocents.  Maybe you just don't have the ability to on-the-fly handle a horse-back chase of a stagecoach and want more time to prepare.  Maybe you're just upset that you spent 35 dollars on an adventure and now the characters aren't participating in it.  Whatever.  Each of these circumstances is best solved by talking as GM to player, not by talking as god to character.  Do the latter and you're just making the game more frustrating to everyone.



#12 reg

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 04:13 PM

Nah, the GM can be chaos God, backstabbing cheat, enemy, best friend, impartial judge, as long as everyone has a good time, GM included. Yes, you do get to hand out corruption points 'cos the players do things you don't like; if you think you're not doing that you're fooling yourself. It's only a game, and hopefully you're playing with friends, so make mistakes, apologise, bear a grudge, be whimsical, generally have a good time; it's only a game!



#13 Emirikol

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 07:23 PM

Rat-bastard GM is the term I prefer. I get a thrill when the players overcome tough situations, but I feign rooting for the bad guys. Running pre-printed scenarios makes that job easy.  

 

http://crystalhatchl...m/Misc/RBDM.htm

 

http://www.enworld.o...uirements/page6


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#14 valvorik

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 01:16 PM

I agree with and try to practice RBy and have for ages in terms of "what would that NPC do being who they are, living in the world they live in, knowing what they (think) they know" - to the particular chagrin of those players who like to think of the GM as some sort of amusement park ride operator only.  "You are trying to intimidate a well-off merchant on his own doorstep, really???

 

That said, I wouldn't hand out corruption points for being generically bad things.  To me corruption is radiation and result of Chaos taint.  Actions only generate it if they are attuned to a Chaos power and thus draw that power's attention and thus taint (rob people per se, no corruption points, engage in needless slaughter as you do so and the Blood God may take notice and "bless you").



#15 reg

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 03:16 PM

Nah, I don't give corruption pouts for trivial stuff, I pretty much follow canon there, but I do like to use them for moments of high (or low) drama. After all, the mighty Tzeentch, changer of the ways, is inscrutable, and who knows when tripping on your shoelaces may serve his purposes.

 

The one thing that is essential, though, is payback. The players enter into a kind of contract with you and take chances - flying dropkicks down the stairs, leaping across moving stagecoaches - and fail gloriously. You've got to give them some kind of reward for that kind of behaviour if you want them to keep it up; praising them to high heaven, laughing about it, ensuring it goes into the backstory. And if the next disastrous dice throw is when they're lying flat on their back amongst a horde of undead, well, fudge it a bit. I guess that puts me  firmly on the narrative side of the debate.


Edited by reg, 14 April 2014 - 05:55 PM.





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