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Archlyte

The Dark Side of Sandbox

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For about 5 years I have been experimenting with total sandbox play, a method of GMing in which almost no prep is done and the players are given complete freedom to choose what the game is about. A friend of mine had been championing this way of playing for some time and I felt that he had great arguments, so years back I wanted to try it myself. To run sandbox games like that you also need to allow for a high degree of Player Agency. The character concepts, how they are played and all of that is a factor in letting them be self-determining. So a lot of GM executive ability is tossed away.

In my younger days I'd always been more of a Theme Park GM, a guy who enjoys prep to a high degree and enjoys having players go through the content, so I had to go against a lot of my instincts to try and be a full Sandbox and Emergent proponent. But I pushed on and became a convert, and bowed at the statue of Player's Rights and Anti-Prep.

Thing is, over time I started to notice a few things that emerged from running/playing games this way. I noticed this from both sides of the screen so when I say Players and GM I am talking about multiple people from multiple play groups. Not a large number of groups, 8+ groups with some turnover in each group. 

  • Players seemed to not have any end of thirst for control. The line between what was theirs to determine and what was the domain of the GM was endlessly blurred and it seemed to encourage finding the line and crossing it. This actually killed several games. 
  • The Enjoyment of Control made the players fear the loss of that control. A strange phenomenon occurred where the players would often balk at a situation if they felt it did not conform to their expectations. When adversity would occur or when told No in Session 0 the players would sometimes become angry and challenge the GM over even basic things. 
  • Analysis Paralysis: When faced with an infinite number of choices I noticed that at times groups would come to a halt. The worst aspect of this to me was that sometimes the plans would seem to have little relation to the situation as described. Several people ride in a car and each has a steering wheel but only one has gas and brakes and a map. 
  • Everything was Improv, so it was all First Draft quality. When everything is flux you get very good at coming up with content on the fly, but this content always lacks editing and revision. A good GM can make improv look like it was planned, but it is always stream of consciousness and if you are trying to make it seem as though you are on top of it you have a time crunch. You cannot take your time to review what is about to happen and how it connects to everything else.  Improv is a great skill, but it isn't everything. 
  • Players asked for Structure. Both verbally and with their inability to act at times, the players wanted the GM to provide them with a cone of choices, a funnel that connected infinite choices with the ones most apropos for the situation. They wanted to be able to enjoy a story sometimes, not just always determine the way things happen. 

 

I started to realize some of this, but my friend argued that I was just a horrible Railroader who was backsliding. I came to the conclusion that though my friend is extremely intelligent, he was wrong. I think that the hobby functions best when there is a balance and flexibility to what all of the participants do, and recognition that the GM is the unifying perspective in a situation where everyone's subjectivity can potentially cause chaos. I refer to it as the Tao of Role-Playing. I came up with this a while back, but didn't fully embrace it until recently. It is the idea that each situation is its own thing and must be reckoned by the needs of that situation. At times you need to railroad, at others you need to let the players steer the game. Each thing as it is appropriate for the situation. 

My games began to get better and I felt better about them. I noticed that the players lost some of their control but they also seemed to be very engaged and were more active. One of my players said he could tell the difference and felt like things in game mattered more somehow. 

I still love sandbox and consider it a viable thing, but I am not afraid to theme park within my big sandbox now. What experiences have you had in your games with varying control and doing less or more prep? How did it work out as a whole for you and your groups? 

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I run a fairly open sandbox style myself: Lots of loose threads put together in a patchwork of stellar successes and epic fails. Like Tramp says, even in a Sandbox there needs to be some prep work.  It may not be as extensive as a Linear campaign or a Theme Park but it still needs to exist.

To extend the metaphor: My sandbox has a frame to contain the sand and an list of toys that can potentially be used to play with the sand. Over there in the corner I've added a water feature and I brought a bunch of toys to play with. Heck I may even have built a sandcastle or two. But just because I've done all this doesn't mean that anyone is going to play where I want. More than likely they'll end up off in another corner making something completely different (or playing in the corner the cat has used as a litter box).

The nice thing about sandboxes is that I can usually take all the toys, sandcastles and prep work I've done, reskin it to suit the direction the players are going in now and still have a fun adventure.

I usually drop about 4 or 5 plot hooks (that I've done minimal prep work on each idea) in front of the players and let them decide which to go with. Whatever they choose, I have enough of an idea of what will happen until the end of the session to run with it and then for the next few sessions, there's more rigidity of play (and more prep work) until the adventure ends. Once it ends, we're back in the sandbox but with the history of their actions determining the next choice. The great thing about a sandbox is all those unused plot hooks can always come back again in the future.

In my opinion, Sandboxes become more organic the more they're played with. That history of choices (good and bad) shapes the whole play area and makes it easier for a GM to add/manipulate and the players drive the story because they're involved. That Black Sun Vigo they double crossed 3 systems back is very likely going to hunt them down and demand payback (or their lives) so maybe let's not take that high profile job this week until the heat dies off.

As for the "Dark side" you mention. Sandbox does not mean Carte Blanche. You're the GM, it's still your box and you built the frame so if people are going to play in it they need to understand the rules of what they can do or can't do. Set the expectation up front but also get feedback from the players as to what they want and then come to an agreement. That's a session 0 conversation. If it doesn't happen, then you'll get pretty much all the problems you listed. If people aren't having fun or the desire to change the style changes down the road, you as a group can always revisit it together.

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It's a healthy epiphany, imho.  I don't think a "pure sandbox" works that well for most tables, most of the time...which isn't to say it can't work, but it requires everyone to be on board and be willing to risk their character for a suitable reward, which requires an unusual group of people.  My players at least would rather minimize any risk, at the expense of a rather boring evening (as I've found out a couple of times when I've let go of the reins).  They are much more comfortable when the story being presented suggests possible goals for them to adopt, then they seem to be all in.

That said, I think it's most effective to provide the illusion of a sandbox rather than an actual sandbox.  You can be as secretly railroady as you like, so long as the players take bait and make decisions that naturally align with your story goals.  Sometimes you end up only laying track a couple of moves ahead of the players, as you realign your story with their actions, but to me that's the "jazz" of being a GM.

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My experience so far is that the more players, the harder to keep up the freedom. The different motivations (player and character) and playstyles clash and a lot of time the players can hardly agree which way to take. 

I need to take account every player AND character to make sure I can hook in everyone to the sams story for different goals.

On the contrary, playing alone with my SO, she is so hooked on the sandbox, I start to be afraid, she will have problems with more structured games when she rejoins the group. 

However, I have to prepare extensively (and I really enjoy this part of GMing) for both styles. I admit, the sandbox for me needs a bit more  work, to always have some wildcards I can throw in when the situation needs it, be it plot hooks, obligations, recurring NPCs (good or bad) and places, relations - well mostly modular world building.

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Sandbox is certainly more feasible with fewer players, and I also agree with the poster that said sandbox games take a long time to get up to full speed. With larger groups of players or a game not planned to last more than a few months of play, I would never go with a sandbox-styled game. Also, regardless of the number of players, I wouldn't do sandbox if those players didn't already know each other fairly well, preferably both through previous gaming and from IRL interactions away from the gaming table.

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The system using star wars means that it lends itself easily to sandbox style play. When you can jump on a ship and fly anywhere in the galaxy how do you contain the players?

I run a loose sandbox style game. The players are always looking for work. I give them options and then they choose the mission they want. I don't railroad the players throughout any of it. I do have an overhanging story and subplots that come into play.

 

I've played in other games (not star wars) where the promise of sandbox is an illusion and the DM wants to tell his story so kept bringing us back to the railroad.

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Why not play something like Dungeon World or any other number of Powered by the Apocalypse games that clearly define the lines of player and GM authorship while also encouraging improvisation at the table ("play to find out") and are far quicker to prep than FFG SW?
 

 

 

 

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As a player, I'm also a big proponent of the Sandbox style of playing BUT that's because as a player, I'm expecting to invest more time and energy into the game.  Not because I need a GM who can do improvisational work.

I would expect to do more homework on the setting, understanding relationships of the key NPC's, etc.  And that's because as a Sandbox player, if I'm going to have my PC make a mark and make decisions that affect the world, I have to be more participatory.

I have found that Sandbox campaigns that don't work, fail to do so because the players don't do the homework and don't commit the time and energy to be immersive participants in the campaign.

One of the things that I find being paramount to the success of a Sandbox campaign is for the players to communicate PC's future actions and intentions so that the GM can prepare for those plot thread.

The other thing that I find, as a GM, is that sandboxes actually take more effort and preparation work, not less.

 

OKay now from the GM perspective.

I'm kinda NOT running a sandbox now in spite of my strong desires to do so.  Part of that has to do with the fact that there are a LOT of grains in this box and the players are unfamiliar with most of those grains.  And so is the GM!

The campaign is also a military campaign where the PC's received missions from their commanders and they go out and and do the assigned job.  Nice and easy, no?

However, part of working in this particular Sandbox, there are other events unfolding, and fortunately for me, most of these events are well documented so I have that crutch to help me out with.  But I also have to keep in mind what other factions are doing, even when the PC's don't directly intereact with those factions, and I have to figure out how that in changing the box, in case the PC's happen to drop back into that area.

However, the PC's do have a spaceship (or two actually) so there's nothing to stop them from going off track.  And they've done that on occasion.  (And with two ships they can REALLY spit the party . . .:blink:.  But they haven't done that yet  :mellow:).

I think studying the principles of sandbox RPG's can be valuable.  There are times that the players will just up and decide to take initiative and lead the plot in a different direction.  Knowing how to deal with that can help in these instances.

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On 4/7/2019 at 1:29 PM, Tramp Graphics said:

Even Sandbox campaigns need prep work, even if it's simply "world-building", and developing the NPCs to fill that "world". In fact, I'd say that's a huge amount of prep right there, and of utmost important. 

Good point and I should have said prep concerning scripted events. 

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Thanks for comments so far and I agree with what I am reading. I think that Sandbox is essential but I guess what I was trying to get across is that I began to get crushed by it over time and found that I missed elements of the other styles of play. A good GM must be able to do improvisation, especially because of what @MrTInce said about travel possibilities. 

I think that what really got to me also is that I saw another person whom I play with starting to have some of the same problems because they were doing the militant sandbox thing and would not accept any kind of a story from the GM. 

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6 hours ago, Stan Fresh said:

Why not play something like Dungeon World or any other number of Powered by the Apocalypse games that clearly define the lines of player and GM authorship while also encouraging improvisation at the table ("play to find out") and are far quicker to prep than FFG SW?
 

 

 

 

I really enjoy this system, to the point where it has eclipsed all other rulesets for me. I addressed the parameters you mentioned in a set of Player's Rules that I give out to players in my games. 

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9 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Good point and I should have said prep concerning scripted events. 

Even then, a Sandbox needs prep, if not more than a "railroad" campaign, since, as others have said, you need to create numerous potential plot hooks for each area, and NPC that your players can pick and choose from. While they don't need to be fully fleshed out adventures, having at least an idea of potential plots that can develop from the players' interactions with the area or NPCs will go a long way in building your sandbox. Look at some of your open world computer RPGs, for example. A good example of which is the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077.  It's  a sandbox RPG loaded with multiple potential story hooks that the player can choose from, and the player can go anywhere in the city in which to takes place. 

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3 hours ago, Mark Caliber said:

As a player, I'm also a big proponent of the Sandbox style of playing BUT that's because as a player, I'm expecting to invest more time and energy into the game.  Not because I need a GM who can do improvisational work.

I would expect to do more homework on the setting, understanding relationships of the key NPC's, etc.  And that's because as a Sandbox player, if I'm going to have my PC make a mark and make decisions that affect the world, I have to be more participatory.

I have found that Sandbox campaigns that don't work, fail to do so because the players don't do the homework and don't commit the time and energy to be immersive participants in the campaign.

One of the things that I find being paramount to the success of a Sandbox campaign is for the players to communicate PC's future actions and intentions so that the GM can prepare for those plot thread.

The other thing that I find, as a GM, is that sandboxes actually take more effort and preparation work, not less.

 

OKay now from the GM perspective.

I'm kinda NOT running a sandbox now in spite of my strong desires to do so.  Part of that has to do with the fact that there are a LOT of grains in this box and the players are unfamiliar with most of those grains.  And so is the GM!

The campaign is also a military campaign where the PC's received missions from their commanders and they go out and and do the assigned job.  Nice and easy, no?

However, part of working in this particular Sandbox, there are other events unfolding, and fortunately for me, most of these events are well documented so I have that crutch to help me out with.  But I also have to keep in mind what other factions are doing, even when the PC's don't directly intereact with those factions, and I have to figure out how that in changing the box, in case the PC's happen to drop back into that area.

However, the PC's do have a spaceship (or two actually) so there's nothing to stop them from going off track.  And they've done that on occasion.  (And with two ships they can REALLY spit the party . . .:blink:.  But they haven't done that yet  :mellow:).

I think studying the principles of sandbox RPG's can be valuable.  There are times that the players will just up and decide to take initiative and lead the plot in a different direction.  Knowing how to deal with that can help in these instances.

Well I think that you can do a lot of world prep for sandbox but in my OP I was actually referring more to scripted events and the characters and situations associated with those things. You can also do pretty much zero Prep for sandbox and just use emergent play guidelines. Many a session I went into with no prep or idea of what was gonna happen in the session whatsoever. I guess you could go zero prep and still just do a stream of consciousness railroad too though so I see your point. 

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3 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

Even then, a Sandbox needs prep, if not more than a "railroad" campaign, since, as others have said, you need to create numerous potential plot hooks for each area, and NPC that your players can pick and choose from. While they don't need to be fully fleshed out adventures, having at least an idea of potential plots that can develop from the players' interactions with the area or NPCs will go a long way in building your sandbox. Look at some of your open world computer RPGs, for example. A good example of which is the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077.  It's  a sandbox RPG loaded with multiple potential story hooks that the player can choose from, and the player can go anywhere in the city in which to takes place. 

Well I think that is a good model, and I would say that is what I used a lot of the time, but I was striving for an extreme and would try to do zero prep at times. I feel that Theme Park content is perfectly ok if contained in a larger sandbox. So for instance I might make a whole are that is an abandoned rebel base to explore but the players can certainly choose not to go there and to do something else. 

I am actually doing a lot of looking at CRPGs lately and taking some elements form those where I can :) Thanks for your thoughts on this Tramp

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Jokingly I would run, what you might call a sandroad. Take that as you will.

It does involve the aforementioned prepping an X amount of potential plots and storylines, with options for reskinning them. Investigating a crashed starship can be done on Tatooine and on Hoth, though each has its own flavor and problems. Wampas instead of Dewbacks. ice pirates instead of tusken raiders. That sort of thing. Sometimes the stats are known, at other times any appropriate set of characteristics will do. A clone trooper is a storm trooper is a sith trooper is a mandalorian foot soldier etc. In the end they are all simply minion level mooks with armor and a blaster rifle.

Now, I must say that the amount of free sand on the road does shift with the theme of the campaign. When we have a session 0 in which everybody wants to play some form of Alliance military personnel, there will be a lot more railroading, in the fact that they are subordinates who get orders and missions. Not the freedom to just hop into their freighter and aim it at the second star to the left. And even when there is more box than road, such as with a bounty hunters campaign, you can still provide that road after the players made a choice. If they choose to take up on bounty X and not bounty Y, then following through bounty X can be quite a narrow path if the GM lays out all the appropriate clues, and they players follow them.

It helps to have a bunch of generic adventure material, which can even be reskinned at a whim. Star Wars is fantasy at its heart, with sci-fi elements. That generic adventure idea about a princess followed by imperial sith troopers and their commander as their evil sith lord wants to force the woman to marry her... could just as well be a daimyo daughter followed by ashigaru led by their evil samurai overlord for a rival daimyo... could just as well be a corporate heir appearent followed by members of a private corporate army and their lieutenant for a competing CEO... could... You get the point. All that from the simple generic idea "important woman followed by armed mooks and leader for important guy with an agenda".

 

I like a mix between sandbox and railroad, both as a player and as a GM. The freedom of choice (or illusion thereof) makes me feel like I am indeed the protagonist of the story, not some random schmuck lifted from the masses to perform X and Y. Unless the campaign theme would make that freedom seem odd, like a military campaign with hierarchy and structure. Of course, even that can be rather open ended. So I am an Alliance operative that needs to infiltrate some military base and retreive plans for some spherical weapon of mass destruction. Yes, I am in a military setting and have my orders. But then what? Total freedom in how to achive the mission parameters.

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19 hours ago, Xcapobl said:

Jokingly I would run, what you might call a sandroad. Take that as you will.

It does involve the aforementioned prepping an X amount of potential plots and storylines, with options for reskinning them. Investigating a crashed starship can be done on Tatooine and on Hoth, though each has its own flavor and problems. Wampas instead of Dewbacks. ice pirates instead of tusken raiders. That sort of thing. Sometimes the stats are known, at other times any appropriate set of characteristics will do. A clone trooper is a storm trooper is a sith trooper is a mandalorian foot soldier etc. In the end they are all simply minion level mooks with armor and a blaster rifle.

Now, I must say that the amount of free sand on the road does shift with the theme of the campaign. When we have a session 0 in which everybody wants to play some form of Alliance military personnel, there will be a lot more railroading, in the fact that they are subordinates who get orders and missions. Not the freedom to just hop into their freighter and aim it at the second star to the left. And even when there is more box than road, such as with a bounty hunters campaign, you can still provide that road after the players made a choice. If they choose to take up on bounty X and not bounty Y, then following through bounty X can be quite a narrow path if the GM lays out all the appropriate clues, and they players follow them.

It helps to have a bunch of generic adventure material, which can even be reskinned at a whim. Star Wars is fantasy at its heart, with sci-fi elements. That generic adventure idea about a princess followed by imperial sith troopers and their commander as their evil sith lord wants to force the woman to marry her... could just as well be a daimyo daughter followed by ashigaru led by their evil samurai overlord for a rival daimyo... could just as well be a corporate heir appearent followed by members of a private corporate army and their lieutenant for a competing CEO... could... You get the point. All that from the simple generic idea "important woman followed by armed mooks and leader for important guy with an agenda".

 

I like a mix between sandbox and railroad, both as a player and as a GM. The freedom of choice (or illusion thereof) makes me feel like I am indeed the protagonist of the story, not some random schmuck lifted from the masses to perform X and Y. Unless the campaign theme would make that freedom seem odd, like a military campaign with hierarchy and structure. Of course, even that can be rather open ended. So I am an Alliance operative that needs to infiltrate some military base and retreive plans for some spherical weapon of mass destruction. Yes, I am in a military setting and have my orders. But then what? Total freedom in how to achive the mission parameters.

I agree wholeheartedly. I think that I got caught up in the dichotomy and picked a side when I should have just allowed for a more complex solution. I feel like the story can, by the players choices, develop its own railroad in the form of a logical constraint. If you chose to go into the garbage smasher you will now be in a constrained situation which is no longer under your control. Any sandbox leads to this eventually. A situation where by freedom of choice the players will railroad themselves. 

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In short, just my point. The moment you run a sandbox game and give the players their free choice of what to do, they choose to do X. Which means you run a game where they follow through the scenes you describe as they achieve X. Those scenes can be a very narrow railroad, within that sandbox, leading to X.

 

You just need to have a few railroads prepared (specifically made, or easily adaptable, for that "free choice").

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Thanks for sharing your experience @Archlyte. It's a great review that shows a clear objective from the beginning and learning process at the end.

I have a good experience with a sandbox game in this system, as other poster mentioned, Star Wars as a setting is great for this type of game. I just wanted to add that FFG Star Wars is great for a more focus style of game. Not necessary "Theme Park" or "Railroad", but an informed Player Agency. Motivations and Obligations will bring certain elements that will interfere with the player's plans but ultimately are a player choice. They choose the type of problem they want to face. 

As other poster mentioned, with too many players is hard to keep focus so I recommend having shared/related obligations or even group obligation to help to keep the cohesion of the group.

Finally, be honest with the players: I disagree with the illusion of a sandbox. Once the illusion is broken, the players will lose interest or become bitter with the game. - Do or do not. Don't lie.

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3 hours ago, Rithuan said:

Thanks for sharing your experience @Archlyte. It's a great review that shows a clear objective from the beginning and learning process at the end.

I have a good experience with a sandbox game in this system, as other poster mentioned, Star Wars as a setting is great for this type of game. I just wanted to add that FFG Star Wars is great for a more focus style of game. Not necessary "Theme Park" or "Railroad", but an informed Player Agency. Motivations and Obligations will bring certain elements that will interfere with the player's plans but ultimately are a player choice. They choose the type of problem they want to face. 

As other poster mentioned, with too many players is hard to keep focus so I recommend having shared/related obligations or even group obligation to help to keep the cohesion of the group.

Finally, be honest with the players: I disagree with the illusion of a sandbox. Once the illusion is broken, the players will lose interest or become bitter with the game. - Do or do not. Don't lie.

Yes that thing about keeping the group focused when it is large is a great point. I never go above 5 players but even then it can be hard to keep everyone focused and proceeding in some way. I like the idea of Focused as a description of the FFG way of playing. It's a great way of putting it and it doesn't carry baggage. 

I also think you are saying that it needs to be a cooperative venture, and that the GM and the players need to be working with each other in how they view the game. Once you stop cooperating with each other you begin to oppose each other in my experience. 

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3 hours ago, Rithuan said:

Finally, be honest with the players: I disagree with the illusion of a sandbox. Once the illusion is broken, the players will lose interest or become bitter with the game. - Do or do not. Don't lie.

Since I got the little cry-emoji, I'm assuming you mean me.  I agree, if the illusion is broken it's the end of the game.  The illusion must not/can not break.  That doesn't mean you can't steer events to suit your story goals, you just have to do it invisibly, and with a lot of rewrites based on what the players actually do.

Ultimately the problem is that the goals of the GM and the players aren't in sync from the beginning.  As a GM my goal is to provide one or more story arcs which, at a minimum, contain a premise, a struggle, and a payoff.  The more dramatic I can make them the better.  There might be several global arcs for a campaign, and ideally each session would have one or more for each PC (which is admittedly a tall order, but one can try).

In contrast, the player's goals have a lot less to do with story arcs, and normally revolve around their PC or maybe the group...getting credits or gear, learning skills.  If the players got to choose everything there would be lot less drama.  A player might give a backstory for their PC (the premise), and might get all enthused when the arc might resolve (the payoff).  But it's the struggle that makes it all worth it, and that is something (at least in my experience) that players try to avoid.  Without the full story arc, the session is flat.  But more importantly (for me anyway), the struggle is a great place to flesh out the premise with additional elements, moral questions, emotional gain and loss, cool set pieces, etc.

Finally, on a special note about the payoff:  if the players had their way, all payoffs would be sweet, which is boring.  I usually aim for sweet payoffs for trivial things (credits, gear, etc), and a few rare bitter payoffs just to keep things spicy, but for big payoffs my goal is usually something bitter-sweet, because: a) choices have consequences; and b) it's far more memorable.

You can't really do all that without setting some invisible (flexible, modifiable) rails, as suggested by @Xcapobl.

 

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I think that the Quantum Ogre device is a similar thing in that if it is something that the player suspect was inevitable they may balk. I also think that what Whafrog said about the goals being in sync is super important, and in the case of someone not having a goal but just opposing yours it means something has to be made straight. 

I have a list pf player rules that I give out that are listed in order of importance. The main reason for this is to make sure that the expectations of my games are express. To summarize:

#1: The Real-Life Relationships are more important than the game. The game should never be set above the way you regard your fellow players, and the game should absolutely never be weaponized as a way to strike out at your fellow players or GM.

 

#2: There is only one Game Master/Dungeon Master in the game. If you have decided to play, you have entered into a contract that you will be a player and accept the limitations and powers of that role for the duration of the sessions and campaign. The GM is the boss.

 

#3: Don't engage in uninteresting Actions. When deciding what to do, remember that when you are solo, you carry the entertainment of the whole table on your shoulders. You should not engage in activities that are solely entertaining to you, and of interest only to you.

 

#4: No Forecasting or GM Suggestion. The players domain is Action and Planning, based on actual description from the GM, and not made up of Player Assumptions. Narrative Control is almost always the strict domain of the GM. The reason for this is that a narrative is a series of actions resolved by design, and players should be reacting to the characters’ lives, not planning and directing them like a mini-GM. Do not suggest or plan anything that attempts to override the real description of the GM in a preemptory manner. This includes things like starting a scene for a desired outcome and getting pissy when it happens spontaneously and differently from the player's design. The proper form for such queries is a question.

Example: Player-"The Death Star janitorial computers should have a terminal I will use to take control of all of the droids on the station."

 

#5: The PC Group/Game as a Whole rates higher than your character. The difference between the two need not be great, but the context as viewed by an imaginary "audience" should always be a consideration of the objective nature of your character. This does not mean you can't like your character more than the group, it simply means you will not act in such a way as to sabotage, neglect, dominate, or otherwise raise your character above the group/game in decision making. If you must do something that violates this rule the GM and other players must be in on it and approve. If your character does betray the group then the players and GM must decide how to resolve the situation OOC, and the character may be removed from play if it is decided that this is the only realistic way to solve the issue. Because players do not control narratives, it is not up to the player if a redemption arc will happen or not, as that requires a design.

 

#6: No Backgrounds or Concepts that inhibit the actual game/story. This means you must not make a character that has a pre-written story that interferes or overrides the actual game as it plays out. Example: the Bounty Hunter who is only-happy-when-Bounty-Hunting and who will be pouting if not hunting marks every session. This also means don't make a character that will not be able to join the adventure, or that is going to attempt to pull the group out of stories at every turn. This also means not making a character that is immune to all emotional situations and has no ties to anyone unless the group is willing to endure the arc of the character growing toward some emotional concessions.

 

#7: Leave Narrative Summary be. If the GM tells you something happens in narrative summary off-screen instead of in an immediate scene, you must accept that your proposed actions were deemed to be irrelevant, inane, or otherwise impeding the narrative and pacing the GM is trying to achieve. This may seem harsh but remember that the GM is trying to keep a narrative flowing and sometimes these digressions and sidetracks can wholly prevent the game from going anywhere. It is the GM's job to not abuse this rule and to try and allow the players some side activities, but the game flow not be overly diverted into solo project scenes.

 

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2 hours ago, Rithuan said:

Interesting. How often do your players use of a light side point for include or change something in the story, considering point #2 and #4? 

Not to speak for Archlyte...I mostly agree with his points, and thankfully I have a group that doesn't need this spelled out (we've been playing since the 70s), although #5 sometimes rears its head when a player insists "b-b-but that's what my PC would do!" while they put the entire party at risk ... but I digress...

I think #2 is a given, it's not really relevant to DP or narrative result usage.  For #4 I'd consider it a default, but a player with an interesting idea can certainly make suggestions using DP or narrative results, so maybe on 5A or 1T:  "This terminal looks like a janitorial computer, but it was forgotten when they rewired the officer's suites, it might give me access to some important stuff."  I usually treat narrative injection as a gateway to opportunity rather than a guaranteed result, unless the result they want is fairly trivial.

 

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