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Waaaghpower

Not sure if this is standard, but here is an idea...

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So, this will be my first time GM'ing, but I made up my own mission and was wondering if this was very typical:

Basically, instead of going from one location to another, the entire mission takes place in one town, where there are a bunch of things you can do. In order to end it, you have to mount an attack on a massive enemy force or sneak around them, then kill some xenos, but there are multiple ways to do this. Depending on their actions, the players can:

Just attack the base outright, and possibly die, (or, if they are lucky, win,)

Kill some guards and steal their uniforms,

persuade the local citizens to join their cause, (every 6 citizens kills one guard, but you can also steal weapon shipments and arm them, meaning that they are more effective...)

In addition, there are multiple endings, depending on how much they figure out. Depending on what they do, they will get more/less money and EXP as a reward.

Is this normal, or do most missions have a relatively linear path? Mine is more based around the RPG-do-whatever-you-want style, but I have never personally played a mission like that.

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Waaaghpower said:

Is this normal, or do most missions have a relatively linear path? Mine is more based around the RPG-do-whatever-you-want style, but I have never personally played a mission like that.

Is it normal? Well, that depends. For those who write Dark Heresy scenarios for publication, no, it is not normal at all. However, for a good handful of GMs on these boards and elsewhere it is, indeed, quite normal.

The RPG-do-whatever-you-want style of scenario/story is commonly referred to as a "Sandbox" while its goatee-wearing mirror twin in which there are no meaningful choices (if any choices at all) for the PCs to make and only one scripted ending is called a "Railroad". You've just leapt the tracks and that is a good thing. The choices and input of the players having a definite and noticeable effect on how the story plays out and in which direction it goes is, in my opinion, a much more rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Good luck!  You're off in a good direction and if you ever need help or advice many people (mostly Gregorius) will be more then happy to help out.

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Doing it as a sandbox scenario is not wrong in any way. It is however a bit more difficult to GM than a railroad campaign which may be something to consider if its your first time. Still, there has to be a first time for everything.

Good luck! :)

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No matter what they do, they will still end up at the same place in the end, but depending on what they learned along they way, they could:

Doom the whole planet to being infested by foul Xenos.

Doom the whole planet to being blown up.

Save the whole planet from otherwise certain doom.

Other than that, they can't really change the ending, the 'sandbox' part comes in where you can do basically anything you want within the town. Is this still technically sandbox, if there are 3 endings, not a ending completely dictated by what they do?

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Sounds like you've got it exactly right.  The campaign/adventure has a definite, if unstated goal, but it's up to them how they get there (and how prepared they are as a result) that determines the outcome.

This is very much the formula I have experienced in the FFG adventures I have played in. (Tattered Fates and Damned Cities)

If you don't have that outcome in mind then the campaign is very different in structure, and becomes much more location and character driven than it is plot driven.  This can be just as good  fun, and in many ways deeply rewarding, but maybe wouldn't result in the satisfaction of busting the arch-heretic's ass and so on.  The non goal-orientated game plays less like a movie and more like a soap opera in my experience (Vampire the Masquerade 'open-world city campaign is a good example that comes to mind).

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I try to style my adventures after sandbox RPGs too. I find this gives PCs a feeling of "being in charge" of their investigation. We had quite fun with our latest adventure, which revolved around serial killings in Nova Castilia. It was fully dependant on which clues the PCs decided to follow up, which actions they took, etc.

The danger with this approach is that it is easy for PCs to "get lost". If they don't get where to go next, you might have to help them along, and point them in the right direction. And this might lead to railroading.

It also takes more work to pull off, for the GM. You'll have to be prepared for situations which might be avoided in a railroaded adventure.

Whenever I want to push a particular theme very hard (if you want to create a very focused narrative, or a cinematic feel), or want the PCs to feel that they aren't in control of their situation, I go railroading, but I think that sandbox adventures are ultimately more rewarding.

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IMHO snadboxing is the best.  For my adventures I usually create a situation, or give the players a basic idea of whats going on at the current location and give them a basic objective.  This is usually retrieve such artifact, capture such and such, find out wtf is happening at X and so on.  I do a lot of work in the city / location and create NPC, decide what they know and what kind of personalities they have, and I create the goal of the enemy, and how long they have before they loose the mission.  They have to earn all of the information, and I usually dont make it easy unless its the first mission or they are all new players or something like that.  How they get to the end is entirely up to them, but I will plan out events that will happen on a time table of the enemy, so as to say that all is according to plan.  Now, this very open style of scenario writing is fun and makes for some very interesting games but, it gets very hard very quickly and requires the GM to be able to think of things from a dozen perspectives all at the same time all the time and keep track of everything the players are doing and figuring out what the NPCs know all the time... it gets complicated.  And then there are always the situations that the you just never expected and have no idea how to deal with.  With this open GMing style this doesn't happen very often, a hell of a lot less then with railroading.  But it is very fun as the players get to make all of their own plans since there is very little as to what is expected of them, and they get to really decide how things end, becuase really they are agents of the =I= and are picked becuase of their ability to think on their feet.  Over all I say this stile works out very well becuase all of my players have had a lot of fun and in the course of en entire campaign with a Radical Inquisitor, they only failed the Secondary Objective of the last mission.  Now, two of the players are dead and of which one had made a chaos pact to survive being captured, one had his face and leg blown off, and the other two were surprisingly fine.  Although they did have to have to accept a bargain from a cult leader that had orchestrated the death of a Grey Knight, the assassination of an Imperial Agent and the Chaos capture of a forge world...  But oh well, their Inquisitor had the artifact that he wanted, the world be damned, always time for an Exterminatus that close to a Fleet World.

And I deviate, point being, sandbox is good, harder, requires more "Off The Cuff" work and a lot more thinking, but much more fun for all involved I think.

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