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Creating Meaningful choices for PCs


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#1 Skunk Bottom

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:39 AM

So I am GMing DW games for some of my friends.

I have combat figured out.

Primary mission objectives, and missions arent too much of a problem.

What I am really having a problem with is creating meaingful choices for my players. Im trying to create choices that are neither right or wrong, but have a meanful impact either right then, or at a later time. I also want the choices to cause some conflicts or indecision within the group.

I'm trying to also have some of these choices come up in an organic manner. So it doesnt end up being just choice A, or choice B, but instead a whole range of choices that the players figure out instead of just being choice A or B that i present to them.

Does anyone have any tips, or suggestions on how to help generate choices for the players?

 

 

Thanks,

Skunk



#2 Mindforge

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:24 AM

Skunk Bottom said:

So I am GMing DW games for some of my friends.

I have combat figured out.

Primary mission objectives, and missions arent too much of a problem.

What I am really having a problem with is creating meaingful choices for my players. Im trying to create choices that are neither right or wrong, but have a meanful impact either right then, or at a later time. I also want the choices to cause some conflicts or indecision within the group.

I'm trying to also have some of these choices come up in an organic manner. So it doesnt end up being just choice A, or choice B, but instead a whole range of choices that the players figure out instead of just being choice A or B that i present to them.

Does anyone have any tips, or suggestions on how to help generate choices for the players?

 

 

Thanks,

Skunk

Player driven games are the best games in my opinion. In order to deal with them you need to keep the game simple. Don't try and plan for everything. Here is what I like to do. Create a flowchart and answer simple yes or no questions. I have actually designed a sheet for this. I will start another post about my "Four Hour Frenzy" session design but creating a flowchart can help immensely.

1. Inserting the players into your game. Give them options. Allow them to choose how they will insert themselves into the mission. In the flow chart just ask yourself one question. Do they land at the insertion point, yes or no? Do not overcomplicate it. Come up with an outcome for yes and an outcome for no. What would happen if they didn't land at the predetermined site? If they did?

2. The hardest part is getting players to begin narrating the story by their own actions. Here is one of the hardest things for a GM to do - design your game around the characters. Always find a moment where every character can shine through non-combat. It can be very simple too - a single skill use can get a character involved.

3. Complicate the Mission. Design a simple mission to begin with. Then through choices of the players - make it complicated. All of a sudden through their choices the mission is now a race against time. Also, avoid making them afraid of performing skills. This can kill a game. I never punish skill failure in my games unless it is a really high degree of failure. The skill might fail but I don't create a situation that can kill the player because of the use of a skill.

4. Evolve your game from a simple template as the mission progresses. Again, simplicity is the answer. Keep it very simple and then let the players determine everything about the mission. Literally, let them try and create secondary objectives themselves. Give them a primary objective, that's it. Let them decide every facet of the mission based on intelligence they have, operational reports, etc… Let them do your work for you. They will and they will like it.

Player driven games once they pick up steam the players like it. Never control the game. As a GM, you are the world not the storyteller… they are the storytellers. I really try to avoid having the person in charge tell the PC's what to do. My Deathwatch PC's are on their own with a specific overall mission - to locate and destroy the orc supply chain and cripple the orc Waargh! so that Imperial forces can win the war. So, the players basically find their targets by themselves and decide how to approach it. They are on their own with a few servitors, crew and an overall order. They are getting a lot of attention though, so in my head (and with a flow chart) I have started determining how I am going to strike back at the Kill-Team. Even then, they will have to decide everything. Also, don't play a character. Playing NPC's here or there is great but I completely avoid playing a fellow battle-brother in my games as it is too easy to throw the players in the right direction. I think they should expect that some choices will backfire on them and complicate the game.


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#3 Skunk Bottom

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:47 AM

Thanks for responding. I really like your idea of making it all player driven. I was struggling with how to plan for that, but the idea of a flow chart has completely fixed that problem for me. Making it player driven and following suggestions, I think is going to make my job a whole lot simpler.

Thanks-

Skunk



#4 Zappiel

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 09:49 AM

just be prepared for the players to go off your flow chart…..(one of) a gm's most valuable skills is being able to wing it…..



#5 Mindforge

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:54 AM

Zappiel said:

just be prepared for the players to go off your flow chart…..(one of) a gm's most valuable skills is being able to wing it…..

That's pretty much why I like to keep it simple… my flowcharts are pretty much just a yes/no progression… Playing by ear is truly the only way to GM a player narrative focused game. Players WILL go off your flow chart, you can count on that… in a player narrative they are supposed to. I like to use simple outlines with ideas that can happen.

The best thing you can do is have stat blocks for enemies on hand and a general idea of how you want your adventure to progress thematically. I like to think of an adventure theme more than anything else… should the game be a horror/survival type mission? Combat focused? Perhaps investigation? Stick to simplicity and your players will create a complicated game… try to be too complicated and you will have a mess on your hands :)



#6 TechVoid

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 07:44 PM

Mindforge said:

[..] Also, avoid making them afraid of performing skills. This can kill a game. I never punish skill failure in my games unless it is a really high degree of failure. The skill might fail but I don't create a situation that can kill the player because of the use of a skill.

I totally agree. The success or failure of skill checks does not determine if the story goes on or is stuck. It simply says how the story evolves.

Cheers,

-- TechVoid


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#7 Koma76

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 06:02 AM

Zappiel said:

 

just be prepared for the players to go off your flow chart…..(one of) a gm's most valuable skills is being able to wing it…..

So true... last night we played this adventure where players should have stripped off their armour and entered the one-square-kilometer-Orkz-camp...

Well... last thing I remember was the Assault Marine dropping drums full of gasoline down below, while Devastator and Apothecary were facing some horde driving a jeep and the Tactical Marine was fighting a MegaNobz trying to rescue a prisoner.

So... players are the real enemy of every plan, doesn't matter how well you plan it.  :D

Peace.



#8 Ansalagon

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 07:09 AM

Well, the what sometimes helps me, is to give them a misson and then change every mission parameter.. For instance they are sent to kill an ork warboss, then when they arrive he is already dead, and they are left standed and cut off on the planet where the tau are preparing to make a staging ground to attack the imperium. Then let them gather information themselves, and find their own way of "solving" the "mission"



#9 Magnus Grendel

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:34 AM

 

So... players are the real enemy of every plan, doesn't matter how well you plan it.  :D

 

 

Definitely. One of the most memorable occasions was when we did Frozen Reaches (somewhat modified for a kill-team rather than a Rogue Trader Dynasty, but it works well). One of the players, finding out about this mysterious relic, decided to steal it. But asked if he could do so without telling the rest of the team. We had a seperate evening where we ran through the heist (he succeeded), and then he continued to not mention the fact he'd taken it to the rest of the team. Despite a borderline civil war kicking off in the capital as accusations were flung back and forth between the various rogue traders.

 

 

Best suggestion for getting them involved - get them involved in planning the mission more. Our gaming group tends to take 3-4 weeks per mission:

Week 1-2: Experience from last game, general 'state of the war' briefing, mission objectives outlined for the next mission,  Map (sketched) and as much information* as they get before arrival. They then outline the plan, from insertion to fiendish tricks, and are encouraged to come up with as outre suggestions as they can. Then requisition, to gather up the kit needed for these shennanigans.

Week 3-4: The actual mission.

 

The more they're involved in planning the mission (as picked veteran special forces should be), the more they will (a) get invested in the mission and (b) you get at the same time helped in coming up with the story - you essentially need to produce the setting, the objective and the twists, they generate the rest.

 

just be prepared for the players to go off your flow chart…..(one of) a gm's most valuable skills is being able to wing it…..

 

 

I have produced a flow-chart for a lot of my missions. I find it amusing how many of the boxes have a line running down to the right hand corner to a box marked "gruesome death".

 

 

 

* which may or may not, of course, bear the slightest resemblance to accuracy, depending on how recent it is, how much effort they put into confirming it, etc, etc.

 

The kill-team previously decided not to spend the 15 requisition required for orbital recon before launching a major assault into infested territory on Castobel during the last mission. This resulted in their tactical briefing not including ~ 1,000 magnitude worth of tyranid brood creatures, supported by warriors and heavier organisms in the combat area, and cost them about half the guard regiment they brought with them. They have since learned that knowing is in fact significantly more than half the battle, and that any option for reliable recon should be siezed upon like a starving man upon a steak platter.


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