use of the non-interactive Cut Sceen and other such devices


Advice

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wondering peoples oppinions on the occational use of non-interactive cut sceens or auto confirm spells and the like.

for example... suppose you have a story that basically hinges on the players running from a monster and more or less taking a certain rout.

I have run many a game in which the level 3 players, ignoring GM advice and basically charge the CR10 dragon thy came across way too early or which was ment as a re-occurring villain they should run from at this level.

I have run other situations where the hook kind of depends on the players being captured or succumbing to a spell like a mass charm or sleep or illusion or some such for the purpose of setting up the next arch of the story.

in both of these cases players choosing to do something unexpected or flat out stupid OR a simple case of players making saves no matter how difficult, can derail the whole path.

so Im wondering peoples opinions on such devices. I think they lead to great story line but others may see them as overly railroady or a sign of poor GMing (if you cant make a plot that does not rely on such plot control you suck.)

what do you think?


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If the cut-scene is something the PC's witness but would have no way to alter the outcome of then I'm generally OK with a verbal cutscene.
"across the courtyard yuo see the princess you came to meet. Out of the shadows behind her steps a black shrouded figure, who stabs her in the back, killing her instantly".
Depending on the PC's and the villain involved, this is entirely plausible. Of course the PC's level can also factor in. (a monk can move *a long freaking way* in a surprise round.. as can alot of other folks).

Now, if you are talking about dictating what the PC's are doing or what happens to them and you are using a cut-scent to do it.
Don't.
I understand the temptation. You've worked hard on your plot and don't want it derailed.

But keep something in mind:
The players didn't show up to listen to DM story telling hour.
They showed up to play their characters. If they don't want to run, they don't have to run. If they want to go right you can't force them to turn left. (not that you can't have very good incentives for them to go left, of course).

The CHOICE of what their PC's do is the only thing differentiating this from reading the DM's story and playing in a world. Resist the temptation to take that away from them.

So:
don't make your entire adventure around the idea that the PC's will get captured. they might not.
Don't put your dragon where the PC's can hit it, if you are worried they won't run away.
Don't "mass charm" or "mass slumber" the PC's with a DC so high they can't possibly pass, just because you can't think of a better plot device. Sure the players may go along with it.
I'd go along with it. But I'd Not be very happy about it.

I don't think its "sign of bad DM'ing". I do think its a sign of not realizing what the effect such things will have on the PC's. *especially* if used often.

Whatever it is you are wanting the PC's to do, you should be able to come up with reasons why, ingame, that don't revolve around twisting their character's arms in such a heavy handed fashion.
(imo, i'd ditch the Capture idea entirely- the same as the "the PC's need to run away from a fight" thing.)

They might very well lead to a good story line.. but there are many other tools in the DM's box to get to a good story line that don't involve taking the PC away from the Player in order to do it.

-S


Selgard gave some very good advice. I happen to agree. What you're describing is called "force majeure" or "the hand of God", and to a writer, it is a convenient plot device. In rpgs, it is TEMPTING to a GM, but you have to disguise it, or use it so subtly, that no one could tell they had no choice in matters.

It's too bad too, because so much fantasy and sci-fi fiction has hinged on the hero getting knocked-out/captured/seduced. It makes it difficult to get that authentic-feeling story-arc going, doesn't it?

One way I've done it is the "dramatic interactive scene", in which there is "stuff happening" and a sequence of events is going to unfold. The players get to run around and influence the scene, but no matter what they do, they're not going to influence the outcome. In this case, I had a town under attack from a small but well-funded and organized force. The players go to respond to a number of pyrotechnic distractions, illusionary sounds and sights, NPC's running amok, and they got to act like leaders and heroes, but nothing was going to stop my bad guy from getting his jail break. Even as the PC's showed up at the jail (they figured out it was a jailbreak) the NPC adventurers were so well prepared they were able to halt the PC's in their tracks and teleport away. My players had a good time, though.

In your scenario of "the princess gets a knife in the back", sure, assassins are often very well prepared and the PC's don't get to see and hear everything. Just use it with subtlety and some believable circumstances (there was 50 yards and a small crowd between you and her) and you'll be fine.


One note about the "make the players turn left" scenario. There's no reason the GM should need the players to turn left. Anything that could be to the left could also be to the right. The players haven't seen the map and don't know where ambushes or even major landmarks are in relation to where they are now. Nothing is real to them until the GM describes it, so just move things around to make the story work.

Forcing them to take certain actions though is usually not good. Same with forcing them to fail saves. (Having a back up, or just writing the story to account for both possibilities is better.)


agreed on the turning left... as long as they have NOT seen that part of the map.

however I think with light use cut sceen and non interactive should be viable... if doen right.

I have literally killed groups because I hinted in every way I knew how that the dragon bigger than a house is not something they should fight... their response "magic missile" or "I charge so that they can run" to which the cleric replies, "OMG fighter is hurt, I will run in and heal him up" and the caster says, "Ill cast a spell to occupy the dragon so that the cleric can get the ... oh.. .cleric got one shot by an attack of opportunity? ... magic missile?"

in other casses its not so much a matter of the PCs have to get captured... just a matter of some time you want something to happen and the PCs insist on doing something... some time RARELY is the cut sceen or forced scenario not valid or would you say its the absolute number one never do act as a GM?


There's a trope that might apply to the dragon in particular (although I can't find what it's called at the moment). Basically, the characters look at the dragon, experience a moment of what's about to happen (they play a round or two and all die horribly) and then snap back and realize that that didn't actually happen, but now's a good time to run.


I think the issue you run into with introducing baddies that they can't possibly kill is that they may feel they're dead anyway. If they're running counter to this thing's plans why would it not just kill them. It can do so quite easily so make sure it's not coming off as heads I win, tails you lose.

In the case of a dragon, I can think of a couple ideas. Run skill challenges around the lair akin to a QTE. Could be a chase scene, could just be a difficult exit while they're unaware of the beast and they hear the terrible roar after they've gotten to safety. You could also introduce it in human form, have it dupe them or ally for a time. That way you also develop a more personal connection for the recurring villain.

I think the chief line not to cross is to take control away from the players so they do what you intend for them to do. To me, nothing would take me out of the immersion more. Sometimes a player is stupid, some times the character is but they have to right to make the wrong decision.


With regards to the dragon:

I think there are plenty of options besides a cut scene or auto-fail spell.

Dragons are *not* stupid.

If its powerful enough, it could just subdue them. Rob 'em, save them for later. (hey look you got that "PC's are captured thing you were looking for!)

or it can fly away.
Or they can have something more pressing to do than jack with the dragon. (like stop the assassin he just told you he sent to kill the king. across town. time starts.. now!)

Or the Dragon is really an illusion.. and the PC's know it.
Doesn't mean they can't interact with it.

They don't have to run away to not fight the dragon.

Also mark me for agreeing they don't have to know their left is really right. ;p

all you have to do is design several encounters for hte dungeon, decide what order you want them to be had in, and then do them in order regardless what direction the PC's go in.
They get to make their choices, you get to keep them going where you want, and all are made happy.
(same is true even outside a dungeon- actually.)

-S


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blue_the_wolf wrote:


so Im wondering peoples opinions on such devices. I think they lead to great story line but others may see them as overly railroady or a sign of poor GMing (if you cant make a plot that does not rely on such plot control you suck.)

what do you think?

I think there are three no-goes when DMing.

- Regularily maneuvering the PCs into situations from which they can't escape alone and then have an npc come saving them (even worse if the npc is someone you play as pc at another table)

- Dictating what the pcs do or what happens to them just because you want it to happen (this includes: You are hit by the spell and fail your savingthrows)

- Make ruleschanges (houserules) that unbalance the game without talking them over with your players. Even worse if it happens during play and strongly affects single players.


Forget about plot as a set series of events and start thinking of it as a set of connected scenarios that the party can engage on their own terms and in the order they wish. Use hints and clues to guide them along.

You think it would be cool if the party fought a dragon? Design the dragon and its lair, then hint at its existence at a time when the party is ready for it.

You would like to see a jailbreak? Design a jail, put an important/rich NPC in it and have someone approach the party asking them to get him/her out. They might just get themselves captured as part of their own plan. The same prisoner could be the only one who knows where the lair of the beast is which has been terrorizing the locals (it's the dragon).

Is it extra work with possibly no payoff? Might seem so if the players don't take the bait, but here is what Selgard said about going left or right comes into play. You can reuse any content easily with some adjustments to the level of baddies.

Also, if you use enough clues and connect scenarios appropriately, the party will follow the trail of breadcrumbs to all of them.


tough call, I rather play things through NPCs, it is perfectly fine to have a 20th lvl NPC be killed by an assassin with a dagger even if one strike could normally never kill him, not so much for the PCs though.

Having PCs auto-fail saves or the like will create a hard to reverse precedent, though I might use it for a god-like creature when it surprises them in some way provided it is more than 5 CR over their level at the time. Some effects do not need saves or the like I guess if you do not want it to have or if they only succeed on a 20 anyway I am fine letting them auto-fail rather than writing a what if.. back up plan.


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DM rule 1; no plan/plot survives contact with the players.


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There are a fut cut scene techniques that I use which work really well.

1) Show the world from someone else's perspective from time to time. You can even hand out stat blocks for individual guards. Then have the dragon attack. You get across the ideas you want (dragon is evil, dragon attacked town) without endangering the PCs.

2) I highly recommend the use of a blog or google document or something to communicate between sessions. You can write up a scene looking at the players from a common man perspective. It's basically #1, but in story form.

3) Flash-forward or flash-back. Start the next session with a dragon fight. Beat the party until they're concerned, then *poof* there's a flashback. You can also hand out higher level versions of the PCs, set up the final defeat of the dragon, and then flash back to 3rd level.

They might just get the message, that this is a high level opponent.

4) Finally, I usually have some NPCs that the players are attached to. Have the dragon ear one of them, to emphasize that it's for real and dangerous.


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Selgard wrote:

With regards to the dragon:

I think there are plenty of options besides a cut scene or auto-fail spell.

Dragons are *not* stupid.

If its powerful enough, it could just subdue them. Rob 'em, save them for later. (hey look you got that "PC's are captured thing you were looking for!

"Frightful Presence (Ex) A dragon's frightful presence has a range equal to 30 feet × the dragon's age category, but otherwise functions as detailed in the universal monster rules in the appendix.[/b]"

Probably enough 3rd level characters will legitimately fail their saves vs. a CR10 Dragon so that the rest will flee with them.

If there are some that make their saves but don't run, the Dragon can have a really condescending chat with them. If they insist on attacking the dragon, that dragon can say such things as "hey, that tickles!" and casually swat them away.

If these remaining party members insist upon annoying the dragon with their petty attacks, well as DM you can ask the famous question "are you sure you want to do that?"

If they're sure, they get to learn a lot more about dragons than 3rd level characters usually do.

blue_the_wolf wrote:

wondering peoples oppinions on the occational use of non-interactive cut sceens or auto confirm spells and the like.

what do you think?

As long as the DM puts on one of those conductor hats and makes choo-choo noises and yells out "all aboard!" so the players know they're riding the rails and there's no getting off till the next stop, so they may as well relax and eat a pizza or chat among themselves, I think it's fine.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

With few exceptions, I hate non-interactive cut scenes in actual video games, let alone tabletop games, as they make you feel helpless, and that is not fun, and the point of the game is to have fun. My philosophy is that the PC should be capable of acting, then they should be allowed to act. To me, player and PC agency is paramount, and I do my very best to design my plotlines to be flexible so that I can adapt to the unexpected choices my players will very definitely inevitably make.

However, I also make sure the players are aware that there WILL be consequences to their actions.

GM: A massive dragon flies before you, roaring, "Stay away! Continue on this path and I will devour you." The dragon is covered in bony spikes, sign of great age, and its head is easily twice the size of a horse--it could probably be capable of swallowing you all whole simultaneously.

Player: We attack it! Surely, if you put it in front of us, you meant for us to kill it!

GM: No, that is not true. And I would like to reiterate that the dragon is clearly very old and very large, and would like to point out you are 3rd level. By all means, I will not stop you from doing what you are doing, but you are fairly certain that if the dragon defeats you in combat, it is not bluffing about devouring you whole.

The players might run away and seek aid, which might be the action I most desire (as noted above, the dragon's frightful presence ability might help with that). But if they attack the dragon, I will play out the fight fair and square and fudge no die rolls. If the dragon kills them all, I'll have a nice talk with them about why it's not a good idea to attack everything they come across, especially when it's that much bigger than they, and we'll roll up some new characters to pick up where the old PCs left off. If they actually manage to kill the dragon, against all odds, then they kill the dragon! Because hey, that's actually pretty freaking awesome that a 3rd level party managed things so well they killed a monster many multiples beyond their CR. Maybe I'd wanted the dragon to be a long term big bad, but that's my fault for exposing the dragon too soon, then (I have a rule of thumb never to expose to the players any character I need to live for a long time, whether friend or foe). They won fair and square and I am not going to take that victory and good feeling away from them. I'll just re-jigger my plot -- maybe the dragon had an ally, or there is an offspring of the dragon who seeks revenge and who will be more careful not to reveal themselves. Maybe I'll just skip ahead to the point where the PCs were supposed to have killed the dragon and carry on from there. Maybe I'll add a new twist, probably based on what the dragon was plotting to do anyway--say the dragon was carrying an artifact that broke upon his death, which now plummets the world into darkness. The PCs now have to find a way to fix the broken artifact and save the world. At any rate, I should have enough notes on the dragon, the world, and what the dragon was up to to quickly alter the story and carry on.

If I DO need the PCs to witness something they can't immediately affect, it needs to be an event that basically lasts no longer than a surprise round. The "you turn the corner and see the assassin stab the princess to death" example that Selgard used is a good one. Mechanically speaking, the PCs were not prepared for combat, so this happened in a "surprise round" where they were not capable of reacting because they were, well, surprised. The actors in the "scene" need to do no more actions than they would otherwise be capable of in a combat round. However, from that moment forward, they can act. Everybody rolls initiative, and they can try to engage the assassin, alert the guards, etc. If I absolutely need the assassin to get away, then I better have designed him to have a massively high initiative modifier and a spell/object/ability that allows him to vanish or teleport away.

Part of why I think of it this way is my players respond well to my being able to explain things in mechanical terms -- it's easier to say, "that was the surprise round, now you can act," than try to flub some other reason for why they couldn't react that may not make any sense.

I think I pretty much probably repeated what other people said, but that's my 2 cents. And as others said, if YOU want to run a railroad game where the players just roll some dice between your awesome story you want to tell them, by all means do so, just make sure the players know what they signed up for.


Having ran games for well into my 20th year at this point, I have to concur with a lot that is on this thread.

1) (From Valandil) No plan / plot survives contact with the players. I would amend this with... past the first two rounds of combat. Players are crafty, calculating people that enjoy the idea of coming up with bizarre ideas that are so from left field that their actually from the soccer game across the street.

And I usually reward them for this. I have a house rule that if you solve a problem in a way I did not plan for, that's worth a hero point.

2) NPCs, particularly villains, are also crafty. But more so, they are organic. They change over time, they grow, they re-think their plans, etc. So, for every main plan / plot a villain has, he/she/it should have at least three back up plans, one of which is a reasonable method of getting away to reassess and regroup.

3) Likewise, other NPCs are organic. They think. They hear things, etc, etc. If the party hears of a dragon (or other big bad) that is beyond their level, having helpful NPCs that care about the party run up and give the "Don't do it. It's bigger than you" speech. It also helps to drop the not-at-all-subtle clues as to just how nasty this thing is, like tracking down a dragon and coming up a valley near the dragon's cave to see massive scorch marks in the ground and dozens of dead and partially eaten cattle/goats/etc. A Knowledge: Arcana check would tell the area that the breath weapon covered in a single it and from that the rough age category of a dragon. I will warn not to give too many specifics, just enough to make it clear to the party that this thing is too huge at this point.

4) Lastly, and this happens a lot at higher levels when the party has a lot of options and they can withstand a lot. Don't be afraid of the occasional PC death. By the time the players were around 15th level, I actually had to try hard to kill one. By 17th, it was my goal to kill at least one every session, knowing they had the resources to come back (and the half-giant soul knife / illuminated soul with the auto-heal once per day did not count)

Remember that a game session is not just a GM's creative writing bender, it's also where the players get to feel like heroes. If you are looking to make the heroes work for that and suffer a bit in the process, look for ways to hamper them (death of a valuable NPC, nasty trap, etc), give yourself a few different ways that it _could_ happen, but once it does happen even with PC participation, don't use that same hook again for a while.

Grand Lodge

The one really good use I have ever had with cut-scenes is as background material to fill in the players themselves of what the heck is going on.

Sort of like in Diablo 2 or occasionally in WoW, the character is chugging along and then suddenly there is a great animation telling some story of the Big Bad End Guy's history, or some other revelation about the plot. EVERYONE loves these in the video games, and if done well can be great for an RPG as well.

I would be VERY shy of using a cut-scene to railroad the PCs with particular actions, though if their actions do lead to such a scene it s okay (such as all of the PCs actually do fail the save- cut-scene time!).

This is something I wish I had used while running Carrion Crown. Only problem was as GM I had no idea what was going on either! lol For APs I think it is best to wait for all six books for running the game. lol


As the internet ate my last post I'll make it short this time:

DeathQuaker wrote:
With few exceptions, I hate non-interactive cut scenes in actual video games, let alone tabletop games

+1

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

An additional, and briefer thought:

I try to approach plots like this:

Rather than worry about "how do I stop the PCs from doing X unwanted action," I frame my thoughts as to, "How do I respond or what are the consequences if the PCs decided to do X instead of Y?"

I can't control what the players decide to do, and I certainly can't control what shows up on the dice they roll. But the world is still mine to make and alter. Rather than be frustrated if the PCs decide to do something I didn't want to, I just try to account for the possibility. For example, if the PCs need a certain piece of information from an NPC, but the PCs decide not to trust the NPC, then I find another way for them to get the information, or get a different but equally useful piece of information. You can't plan for every eventuality but you can usually prepare for many of them.

And when the PCs really stymie me, my players have no problem with me saying, "Okay, hold on guys, I really didn't expect that, take a quick break while I look at my notes and figure out what's next."


fair points all.

I have managed to avoid such things in the past, in fact I have done a pretty good job of getting my players to do unusall things of their own free will as players (tricking both player and character)

a recent achievement was getting 2 players to fight each other without realizing they were fighting each other.

having said that there are times when I find deus-ex-machina to be viable. some time its because the players do something totally unexpected and none of my 6 contingencies covered that... or sometimes its because I think that 5 mins of unfun railroading is better than hours of death, character creation or simple end of adventure because the party did something incredibly stupid or unexpected against all better judgement.

I believe that the game should be entertaining for the GM as well as the players and while I am not afraid to kill a player or even TPK in a fair fight I would personally find an off the wall and avoidable TPK which throws many hours of story plotting and world building out of the window to be completely unfun especially when it can all be avoided by, "actually im going to take a moment to railroad you this way"

dont get me wrong this is not a regular thing. In fact I would say it happens once in a full year long adventure or less... but I think that while it should be avoided it is not the depths of DM evil.

on a side note... some one mentioned the use of higher level NPC saving the party.

I personally like to create situations in the first 2 or 3 levels where the PCs face a more or less mundane threat (like a dire bear vs a level 1 party) or a party obviously overwelmed by enemies where they basically have to survive a few rounds of battle and be saved by the NPC that will guide them through their next stage of development. I do this to create a sense of growth so that the party can see in real world actions how they are growing in the world.

why would you dissagree with this?


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I've found the following blog in general and the three articles very helpful about how to handle players choices and there effects on the game in general and the DMs plans specifically:

Slaying the Quantum Ogre.

Having the Quantum Ogre for tea.

Ways you are ruining your game.


Umbranus wrote:
blue_the_wolf wrote:


so Im wondering peoples opinions on such devices. I think they lead to great story line but others may see them as overly railroady or a sign of poor GMing (if you cant make a plot that does not rely on such plot control you suck.)

what do you think?

I think there are three no-goes when DMing.

- Regularily maneuvering the PCs into situations from which they can't escape alone and then have an npc come saving them (even worse if the npc is someone you play as pc at another table)

- Dictating what the pcs do or what happens to them just because you want it to happen (this includes: You are hit by the spell and fail your savingthrows)

- Make ruleschanges (houserules) that unbalance the game without talking them over with your players. Even worse if it happens during play and strongly affects single players.

Agreed on all these points.

If your players don't want to stick to the plot...work with it. Maybe the Dragon is actually an ally and can get them back on track.

If they kill the BBEG too early, so be it...come up with another one, his/her boss. Or a flunkie.

If they comepletely and deliberately ignore the main plot, roll with it for a night and then ask them why they're so obviously avoiding the obvious plot. (You might find out they didn't realise what was going on...remember, as a GM, you know what is supposed to happen, sometimes, adventurers can miss a key clue...)

And if they change things too much, well, that's part of being a GM. Always be prepared for the players to not follow the adventure as written. (I'm running a SD campaign right now where the heroes haven't even gotten to the Golden Goblin yet...)

Sometimes, and even better adventure can be made from the players going off the plot. (I played in a MERP game two decades ago where the heroes (played by players who had never read LOTR), not knowing who he was, got an obnoxious hobbit drunk and stole his magic sword, mithril shirt, and ring of invisibility...the GM freaked, but it could have been interesting to see how the heroes would have gotten the ring to Mt Doom...)

In the end, its not just your adventure, its everyones and railroading the players into a certain plot is bad for everyone. (Dragonlance is an excellent example of that...)


Krome wrote:

The one really good use I have ever had with cut-scenes is as background material to fill in the players themselves of what the heck is going on.

Sort of like in Diablo 2 or occasionally in WoW, the character is chugging along and then suddenly there is a great animation telling some story of the Big Bad End Guy's history, or some other revelation about the plot. EVERYONE loves these in the video games, and if done well can be great for an RPG as well.

I beg to differ about this (unless you're being sarcastic). I think that most people HATE these in video games. And even moreso in RPGs.

Liberty's Edge

Something I've used on a couple occasions to great effect is a player-read scripted cut scene.

I print up a few copies of a script for the cut scene and assign up roles for each player to read. This gets players a little more involved since they're each portraying a specific character (and thus the information/scene is more likely to stick with them) and nobody is bored listening to the DM talk for 20 minutes.

This works best for your typical "coalition of evil" secret meeting.

Example:

Villain 1: Yes, soon our plans will come to fruition!

Villain 2: And we'll crush those heroic heroes.

Villain 3: But what about that plot-relevant macguffin the heroes recovered?

Villain 1: Shut up Villain 3! We're not scared of that plot-relevant macguffin.

Grand Lodge

gigglestick wrote:
Krome wrote:

The one really good use I have ever had with cut-scenes is as background material to fill in the players themselves of what the heck is going on.

Sort of like in Diablo 2 or occasionally in WoW, the character is chugging along and then suddenly there is a great animation telling some story of the Big Bad End Guy's history, or some other revelation about the plot. EVERYONE loves these in the video games, and if done well can be great for an RPG as well.

I beg to differ about this (unless you're being sarcastic). I think that most people HATE these in video games. And even moreso in RPGs.

Nope... just go to Youtube and look at the number of watches and likes on the cut scenes for World of Warcraft alone. Every single player I knew in the game would rave when they managed to get to a cut scene and see some cool animation that enhanced the story line.

Think of cut scenes this way (using Star Wars as an example)... every single scene of Darth Vader searching for the droids, killing the ship captain, choking the arrogant naval officer, etc was a cut scene to give plot development and character story to the audience.

In an RPG you have an usual situation where the players are both audience and characters in the story. Carefully worked, a cut scene can fill in the details to the audience, and later that same information can be slowly filtered to the characters.

For example, in Carrion Crown, the information was filtered to the PCs over 4 books. By the time they had all of the clues they had no freaking clue what they clues meant, and they even missed that some of the info were clues at all. Had I inserted cut scenes, introducing the villain so the players got a taste of him and could really build a hatred of him, had I put in a cut scene of the research and development of the potion, then when the PCs were handed the clues they would have realized what they were. Addditionally, when the PCs finally fought the witches that produced the formula the players would have had a clue and hated them on site. Instead they happened to be two more random monsters that needed killing... then they find out, after the witches are dead, that THEY were the ones to develop the formula! Oh well, too late now!

See in Carrion Crown the real villain makes no appearance in the game at all until the very end. To the PCs he is just some random dude they fight and defeat... then they learn "OH HE WAS THE BAD GUY! HA Oh well he's dead now!" Cut scenes would make that final battle much more dramatic. Instead of a random bad guy he IS the bad guy.

Imagine Star Wars if you never saw Darth Vader until the fight against Obi Wan... yeah okay some black robed dude... oh there he is again a the Death Star fight... oh well whatever...


I've used non-interactive cut scenes... more like a camera panning to the bad guys and foreshadowing future events.

I've only ever had one player complain... and he was the type to not even wait for plot exposition (your NPC is stealing MY limelight). Even if it was the villain doing the Evil Boasting (tm). I never took his complaints to heart (he was quite a bit of a jerk at the time anyway). Strange how my other players actually WANTED to hear about what was going on... (It's a style I adopted from Torg... very cinematic)

Mind you, NEVER railroad your PCs....

Grand Lodge

Feral wrote:

Something I've used on a couple occasions to great effect is a player-read scripted cut scene.

I print up a few copies of a script for the cut scene and assign up roles for each player to read. This gets players a little more involved since they're each portraying a specific character (and thus the information/scene is more likely to stick with them) and nobody is bored listening to the DM talk for 20 minutes.

This works best for your typical "coalition of evil" secret meeting.

Example:

Villain 1: Yes, soon our plans will come to fruition!

Villain 2: And we'll crush those heroic heroes.

Villain 3: But what about that plot-relevant macguffin the heroes recovered?

Villain 1: Shut up Villain 3! We're not scared of that plot-relevant macguffin.

I love that idea except my group would butcher it... add lib monty python jokes... flub the line four times... heck I flub the lines as bad as anyone! lol

I plan on running Rise of the Runelords for them in a bit... I may write some cut scenes and use this idea and see if we can't get them to get into it. I like it.

Liberty's Edge

There's ways to work cut scenes into the game in an in-character manner.

In the last campaign I ran one was when the party was essentially scrying on the BBEG and the other was the reward of a vision quest they'd been on.

Alternatively, if your players about divorcing IC knowledge from OOC knowledge there's no reason you can't show the players even more.

Grand Lodge

I don't worry about player knowledge because I plan on feeding them that same info later.

Course I haven't gotten to run cut scenes often. In the Carrion Crown AP we started immediately when the first book came out. So for most of the AP I was running the game blind and even I did not really understand what the heck was happening. That was a bad idea. SO many changes I would have made had I known the details from the start.


rkraus2 wrote:


2) I highly recommend the use of a blog or google document or something to communicate between sessions. You can write up a scene looking at the players from a common man perspective. It's basically #1, but in story form.

I often use non-interactive cut screens to move the story along between gaming sessions via email.

I even make assumptions about what PCs do. They might get drunk and have a one night stand with the mayor's niece. They might be working as a town guard and get in trouble for playing cards while on duty. They might have been playing dice at the tavern and won BIG against the blacksmith who now owes them a lot of gold he does not currently have to pay.

Some would definitely view this as rail-roading but my group sees it as interactive story telling. I carefully try to keep the PCs actions in line with the PCs characters as the player has played them in the past.

There is an understood rule though that I am not going to screw a PC too bad without the player's control and it helps that sometimes good things happen out of the players control.

Also one of my players really only cares for the tactical combat aspect of the game so I generally don't bother with "story stuff" with him.

On thing though, over the years I have run several adventure stories that revolved around the group of PCs being stripped of there gear for a time. Like prisoners, slaves, back from the dead, etc. Those type stories are generally not liked by players and I would avoid designing or buying any adventures like that.

I am just getting ready to write a cut-scene for the oracle in my group that gets a "vision". They are nearing a pivotal point in the story which I want the oracle to have some mystical insight about. So the oracle is about to get bite by a poisonous snake and fall into a fever pitched coma for the next 18 hours during which she will have a "vision". A long written out vision.

Bitten by a poison snake through no fault of her own with no saving throw which causes a fever induced coma that is totally outside the game rule mechanics all for the sake of story. Next session we play though she will be right as rain, no worse for wear except for some knowledge and two puncture mark scars that never quite fade and ache from time to time.


For stuff where you're just feeding them backstory, you can give them a handout.


Krome wrote:
gigglestick wrote:
Krome wrote:

The one really good use I have ever had with cut-scenes is as background material to fill in the players themselves of what the heck is going on.

Sort of like in Diablo 2 or occasionally in WoW, the character is chugging along and then suddenly there is a great animation telling some story of the Big Bad End Guy's history, or some other revelation about the plot. EVERYONE loves these in the video games, and if done well can be great for an RPG as well.

I beg to differ about this (unless you're being sarcastic). I think that most people HATE these in video games. And even moreso in RPGs.
Nope... just go to Youtube and look at the number of watches and likes on the cut scenes for World of Warcraft alone. Every single player I knew in the game would rave when they managed to get to a cut scene and see some cool animation that enhanced the story line.

I for my part nearly every time just klicked it away if possible.

Sometimes I looked it up at youtube at some later point to watch it. But during play it was just annoying and breaking the game flow.

I played wow for several years and I guess there are (cool) cinematics I've never seen because I hate such interruptions.


The best time to use a cut scene to avoid breaking the flow would be at the beginning or end of a session (or as mentioned, between sessions). Spending 20 minutes expounding on the history of the big bad (preferably with some way to tie this back into your characters) could do a good job setting the mood for some people (or a good job losing their attention for others). Another case of "know your players."

Lochmonster wrote:

I've found the following blog in general and the three articles very helpful about how to handle players choices and there effects on the game in general and the DMs plans specifically:

Slaying the Quantum Ogre.

Having the Quantum Ogre for tea.

Ways you are ruining your game.

Err... I just read through those, and that guy has some serious issues with his writing style (or really more his argument style).

The example used in all those is the three groves with the ogre wherever the players go first and the macguffin wherever they go last. He goes on and on about how bad this is, except that isn't actually what he's arguing against. What he's actually arguing against is when the GM starts pulling weird reasons out to prevent the players from nailing things down before visiting those groves. You have to carefully sift through the comments to figure this out.

Overall, I'm not sure I could recommend those articles. There's some good ideas there, but they're badly presented.

Edit: Basically, if the players never know it happened, it really isn't compromising their perception of their agency, which is more important to their fun than their actual agency. Pulling out weird crap to prevent them from doing something off the rails compromises both.

Another way to look at that is by comparing it to a (good) story-heavy computer RPG. The first time you play through it, you make choices and enjoy the story. Only if you go back and play it again just to try the other choices do you realize that those choices don't actually have any effect on the story. Since you can't replay a PnP RPG (for the most part), this is a non-issue.

Edit again: Also, his ideas about telling the players everything about everything really break verisimilitude for me. How would I know if the guy really does have a magic sword to reward me with? Well, I could make a Sense Motive check (an in-character action), or I could accept the possibility that he doesn't, do the quest anyway, and then beat him up for lying to me if it turns out he was lying (or something similar).


Blue, you clearly started this thread as a sincere and legitimate appeal for opinions that run concurrent to yours -- that you couched in a question that could be viewed in one of two ways.

Don't railroad yourself like you've railroaded your players -- the overwhelming consensus of brilliant and sympathetic people are advising DON'T DO THIS. It's not fun, and it's an abuse of your power as a GM, and you're in all certainty more qualified as a GM than one that would need to do that. Sometimes your players will be brilliant strategists -- sometimes your players will be a whirling gang of Don Quixotes... but as I remember, the writer of that story managed to forstall killing him long enough, and you can too!

You've been given a laundry list, a veritable toolkit of more appropriate devices to bend progression to your will, or to protect plot progression as you envision it, or roll with the punches when your progression gets derailed. Try to find some appreciation for a job well done when they CAN derail your plans, and if you're killing them because they only have the option to move out of the areas you deny them, you're not thinking big enough.

Really take some time and re-read this thread and digest the wisdom it contains, and stop taking control of your Player's characters. If you find after this thread is retired that you still can't refrain... I suggest you write a book.


Vicon,

actually I have no problem with people seeing it differently and value the opinions presented. The best way for me to get a better understanding however is to be a bit contrarian and further argue the other side, thus encouraging people to better explain.

To be honest as a player I tend to not stress over the occasional cut scene because I know that the GM is doing their best to provide a story and some time they just have to get through a plot point or hook and the best way for them to do it is a cut scene. As long as that cut sceen does not cover an extended period of time or include my character doing things I would never have it do I personally don't mind.

Having said that I appreciate all of the opinions here and recognize that mine is in the minority. I am a bit surprised at the vehemence of the opposition to the idea and wonder if people are actually seeing it in the limited and occasional use I am or are absolutely repulsed by it in any and all application, but I can accept that that is simply how people feel and don't take it personally.

that does not mean that I should quit the game and write books. It simply means people see things differently this post was a great learning experience.


It definitely was and not just for you. I sincerely hope you read the "Quantum Ogre" articles suggested above, as I did and I found them extremely enlightening even for my position... there are also links in the comments thread of one or two of those articles that argue the opposite position which seems may be more your camp.

I personally am more of a "Sandbox" GM, and have learned over the years that the best stories are the stories in my games weren't what I planned, but when the party took things in a completely unforeseen direction, I rose to the challenge, and by the time the campaign ended they were standing on a great height metaphorically miles from where anyone could have predicted, and knowing in their own hearts it was their decisions that got them there.

I appreciate there are GMs of every faith, but in my Church, the invisible wall, the railroad, and the cutscene that moves or talks the player... they are anathema. You have to do what you have to do in the end, but I think cut-scenes and railroads are the best tools - the freedom of the player is sacrosanct.


Vicon wrote:
I appreciate there are GMs of every faith, but in my Church, the invisible wall, the railroad, and the cutscene that moves or talks the player... they are anathema. You have to do what you have to do in the end, but I think cut-scenes and railroads are the best tools - the freedom of the player is sacrosanct.

/shrug/ in my games I do the best I can but I think there is a balance.

I didnt like the quantum ogre deal because it, like you, was way too preachy. its also the extreme side of the order/chaos spectrum. on one side you have basically a rail road game while on the other you have 'do what ever you like and the GM will make it work out some how.'

I cant stand either extreme.

to me freedom is not sacred, fun is.

so while my use of the railroad will be rare and as light as possible I am also not going to let a player say "oh.. you have a whole story line about us going to that castle over yonder on kings orders but I would rather kill the king and own this castle instead now make it happen"

not because i feel that I am the GM and the players should all bow to my will... but because I think that the players should to some degree respect that I spent hours out of game building a story for them so YES they have some obligation to at least try to go with it.

when I talk about a cut seen or other such devices I dont mean that I am using it to railroad players against their will.. I am simply saying that I am guiding them allong the story they are already following.

I once had a game in which the players entered a tomb and what amounts to a deathknight approached them and raised its arm to point at them. one player jumps in and says I smite and charge, another said I cast a lightning bolt before the charge and another started unloading arrows...

however the whole reason they were in the dungeon was to get information which the deathknight was going to give them along with a special boon in exchange for a task which would free his soul. (a series of clues had pointed them to the tomb but not the source of the information or even the full understanding of what information they would recieve)

I could have said... ok you attack him, he defends himself, you kill him... then you stand around the tomb looking for information that is now gone... or i could have said "ok guys minor cut sceen, 'as you enter the tomb a skeletal knight in old but functional armor rises from a kind of throne and spoints at you... you see its jaw moving as if to speak and after a few moment an echoing voice echoes in your mind...."

I dont think I took anything from the characters but most of the time the characters are going to want to charge the enemy for xp or loot or simply out of fear. in this kind of case which is being used to set up the next several sessions of sand box story i dont think its too much to ask or mind blowingly torturous to the players to suffer through 3 mins of GM storytime.


I don't mind non interactive cut scenes for stuff involving NPCs. I don't like them for stuff related to PCs: if your problem is that your players are too reckless try to get them to understand that there are stuff too tough for them, against which they have no chances at all.
Getting PCs to run is one of the toughest thing to do in the game: make them do a knowledge check and tell them that the creature is unbeatable.

Be careful though that running from an enemy you can't beat could be impossible too, unless the wizards use magic to get them somewhere else: a paladin in heavy armor is not going to outrun a dragon. Not even a monk with the run feat is going too...

Also, if your players NEVER run, it's probably because that's not the game they want to play. I play the game to be an hero, not a coward who runs every single time. Also, once they get used to fleeing, you may find difficult to make them stay on the boss fight, which is really underwhelming...


blue_the_wolf wrote wrote:
so while my use of the railroad will be rare and as light as possible I am also not going to let a player say "oh.. you have a whole story line about us going to that castle over yonder on kings orders but I would rather kill the king and own this castle instead now make it happen"

If this happens then you either

A) Didn't use enough communication with your player to reach an agreement on the kind of game you'll be playing
B) Had an agreement but then as GM decided to go with another style which the player is now rebelling against
C) Had an agreement and the player is being a jerk

A and B can and should be fixed before the game starts.

blue_the_wolf wrote wrote:
however the whole reason they were in the dungeon was to get information which the deathknight was going to give them along with a special boon in exchange for a task which would free his soul. (a series of clues had pointed them to the tomb but not the source of the information or even the full understanding of what information they would recieve)

Why not remind them? "You are here to gather information, remember?". And you could stress that the deathknight is behaving non-threateningly.

Also, who cares if they kill it? Whatever information it has should be available elsewhere in the tomb. Or you could use a ghost instead of a deathknight, then you don't have to worry about it getting killed. Or you could turn the deathknight into a ghost once it was killed. The list goes on.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. If you know you can't come up with something on the spot or don't want to (for whatever reason) then the solution is the three-clue rule.

Every plot point should have at least three clues pointing to it in three different places.

What you describe here is a classic choke point. You had a number of clues pointing to this encounter but you only have one clue here pointing to the next. Furthermore it isn't absolutely sure the party finds this clue. Truth be told, it never is but at least make it more permanent than a destroyable entity.

On another note, I am glad to see you take constructive feedback well. This is the advice board and everything people write here (even if it seems to be presented as the One-True-Way) is just what it is: advice.


MagiMaster wrote:

The best time to use a cut scene to avoid breaking the flow would be at the beginning or end of a session (or as mentioned, between sessions). Spending 20 minutes expounding on the history of the big bad (preferably with some way to tie this back into your characters) could do a good job setting the mood for some people (or a good job losing their attention for others). Another case of "know your players."

Lochmonster wrote:

I've found the following blog in general and the three articles very helpful about how to handle players choices and there effects on the game in general and the DMs plans specifically:

Slaying the Quantum Ogre.

Having the Quantum Ogre for tea.

Ways you are ruining your game.

Err... I just read through those, and that guy has some serious issues with his writing style (or really more his argument style).

The example used in all those is the three groves with the ogre wherever the players go first and the macguffin wherever they go last. He goes on and on about how bad this is, except that isn't actually what he's arguing against. What he's actually arguing against is when the GM starts pulling weird reasons out to prevent the players from nailing things down before visiting those groves. You have to carefully sift through the comments to figure this out.

Overall, I'm not sure I could recommend those articles. There's some good ideas there, but they're badly presented.

Hi. I'm the author of Hack & Slash.

The "example" I used is not an example. It was part of an ongoing discussion about Illusionism started at Beedo's Death in the Liche House blog in the post The shell game in the sandbox. He was talking about a similar situation to the original poster. Is it ok to move things around to get the players to experience the plot? Do you have a responsibility to force something interesting is happening?

Since the post is part of a discussion, the careful reader will note that they are tagged "series (Quantum Ogre)". If you were to select this tag, you would see the first post in the series, which makes this explicit, with a link to the originating article.

Since I did not post those links in this thread, I had nothing to do with the first post being not included.

I am unsurprised that you found reading parts 2 and 3 of a series a bad presentation of good ideas. Being the internet and a blog, I have minimal control over the method by which people peruse my blog.

In regards to the point of "If players don't know their agency is compromised, then it isn't actually compromised", this was brought up in the discussion. The general assessment is that this statement essentially assumes that your players are stupid. If a DM comes to the table with the stance that he can keep the lack of their agency hidden from the players, then it is likely he is going to treat them inappropriately in other ways. In fact, it is somewhat ignorant to assume that a DM can lie well enough to fool one person 100% of the time, much less a room full of people. Statistically speaking that is. Due to the absurd wealth of games available currently, I would, and have, walked straight away from a DM running a game like this. I don't wish to spend my hobby time around people who assume I am too dumb to know that they are lying. The thread discussing this particular argument is carried over here at Monsters and Manuals, another excellent blog.

I would say that it isn't necessary to be able to replay the tabletop RPG to find out your choices don't affect outcomes.

In regards to your final edit, I do not suggest "Telling players everything about everything". What I do suggest is. . .

  • When you have limited time to play
  • Your players lead busy lives
  • They wish to spend their time in the game doing things that they enjoy.
  • You should enable them to do that
  • Even if it means breaking verisimilitude
  • Because breaking verisimilitude is better then having them doing something unfun for six hours.

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:
A player shows up to play but his character isn't around. Don't make him sit for hours until it is 'logical' for his character to show up. Get him playing in five minutes.

The group is deciding what to do. The players tell you they've had a stressful week and just want to kill some things. Take the time to guide them to those options and not the ones that involve problem solving, domain management, or mysteries.


blue_the_wolf wrote:

/shrug/ in my games I do the best I can but I think there is a balance.

I didnt like the quantum ogre deal because it, like you, was way too preachy. its also the extreme side of the order/chaos spectrum. on one side you have basically a rail road game while on the other you have 'do what ever you like and the GM will make it work out some how.'

I cant stand either extreme.

to me freedom is not sacred, fun is.

Hi Blue!

I'd like to take a moment and address a bit of a strawman. No one is suggesting 'do whatever you like and your GM will make it work out somehow.'

What is being suggested is that railroading is an intrinsically disrespectful activity.

Now, you make a very valid point about fun being more important then freedom. And I agree with you. But while exceptions exist, people in general do not enjoy being punched in the nose. It is fairly safe to assume that if you walk up and hit someone in the center of their face, they will be upset.

If you look at the meaning of the phrases "Non-interactive cut scene" and "Railroad" and the other things being discussed in the thread, you will see that they are, without question, related to activities that marginalize the importance and worth of other human beings.

Now, if you just read the above and don't read the following, you'll be wasting your time as well as mine.

This does not mean that games do not contain compromise, boundaries or limits. It is perfectly acceptable for actions to be triggered when players arrive places, to discuss where you're going to be adventuring next week, or what shape the next campaign will be.

blue_the_wolf wrote:
so while my use of the railroad will be rare and as light as possible I am also not going to let a player say "oh.. you have a whole story line about us going to that castle over yonder on kings orders but I would rather kill the king and own this castle instead now make it happen"

Well, see that's the great thing about not limiting play that's so fun. In this example, let him try.

Three things can happen. 1) He will succeed, 2) He will fail and live, or 3) He will fail and die. All of these results are good for you.

If he succeeds, he has just given you one million plot hooks that he is intimately involved with.
If he fails, he is dead or spends the rest of his short life in bonds and rolls up a new character, thus learning a lesson about consequences.

blue_the_wolf wrote:
not because i feel that I am the GM and the players should all bow to my will... but because I think that the players should to some degree respect that I spent hours out of game building a story for them so YES they have some obligation to at least try to go with it.

I would say that it is a reasonable expectation to think that others will treat us with respect. However, the behavior of other people is outside our control. You don't decide what other human beings do, and sometimes they do things we wouldn't like. I agree that it's frustrating when people don't treat us with respect, but I think preemptively not treating them with respect is a bad move that leads to bigger problems.

I think the solution above, while not addressing the disrespect issue directly, does in fact resolve the problem, earning you the respect you seek.

blue_the_wolf wrote:

I once had a game in which the players entered a tomb and what amounts to a deathknight approached them and raised its arm to point at them. one player jumps in and says I smite and charge, another said I cast a lightning bolt before the charge and another started unloading arrows...

however the whole reason they were in the dungeon was to get information which the deathknight was going to give them along with a special boon in exchange for a task which would free his soul. (a series of clues had pointed them to the tomb but not the source of the information or even the full understanding of what information they would recieve)

I could have said... ok you attack him, he defends himself, you kill him... then you stand around the tomb looking for information that is now gone... or i could have said "ok guys minor cut sceen, 'as you enter the tomb a skeletal knight in old but functional armor rises from a kind of throne and spoints at you... you see its jaw moving as if to speak and after a few moment an echoing voice echoes in your mind...."

I dont think I took anything from the characters but most of the time the characters are going to want to charge the enemy for xp or loot or simply out of fear. in this kind of case which is being used to set up the next several sessions of sand box story i dont think its too much to ask or mind blowingly torturous to the players to suffer through 3 mins of GM storytime.

The characters want to charge the enemy for xp or loot or simply out of fear because you taught them to do exactly that by using cutscenes!

If you let the players attack the death knight, and he devastates the party killing some members and gives his advice to the remaining living, they learn. If they kill him and don't find the information they seek they learn.

Do your players ever fail? If they don't experience consequences for their choices, then you are training them to make choices without considering consequences. That is what running an agency rich game gets you! Players who think twice before killing kings and attacking death knights.

My players think long and hard before fighting, creatively attempt to solve problems and actively engage with my game and world because what they do matters.

You don't get respect from players by taking away their freedom. You get it by showing them anything they want to do in your game is earned.


I'd advise against it. Hate cut scenes in PnP games.

Besides, you have other tools for creative storytelling. Namely: you set the numbers. Want to have your big bad pop in and gloat? Make him too strong to really even perceive the players as a threat. Or give him some sort of situational bonus that makes him untouchable. Some examples are:

Make your big bad appear as a projected image using magic.

Your big bad appears behind some impenetrable barrier

For the earlier example - the dragon has X magical item that grants him fast healing 50 - heck, destroying the item could be an adventure to precursor facing off against him. While he has it he sees the players as a non-threat and something to toy with for amusement.

Just remember - Villians aren't BBEGs because you're smarter then all of your players combined. They're villians because they are somehow opposed to the players and have far more powerful resources to pull off their plans. Just be careful that any items and resources you give to the BBEG have restrictions on them that make them useless to the PCs. Don't want your PCs to get Fast healing 50 by fast talking a dragon.


The only time I use "cut-scenes" is for opening dialog between the players and the BBEG or important Enemies.

I have had instances where the NPC wished to have a "Stare-Down" or "Insult fest" before combat started. Its an iconic part of fantasy RP. The hero and villian talk for a brief time before the epic fight.

I only do this is there is no surprise from either side(both see and know there other is there) and they have prepared themselves for combat. In such cases I have told the PC's there will be a bit of dialog before initiative is rolled.

Thats about all the forced cut scenes I do. It just adds to the finality of the fight.


Krome wrote:
gigglestick wrote:
Krome wrote:

The one really good use I have ever had with cut-scenes is as background material to fill in the players themselves of what the heck is going on.

Sort of like in Diablo 2 or occasionally in WoW, the character is chugging along and then suddenly there is a great animation telling some story of the Big Bad End Guy's history, or some other revelation about the plot. EVERYONE loves these in the video games, and if done well can be great for an RPG as well.

I beg to differ about this (unless you're being sarcastic). I think that most people HATE these in video games. And even moreso in RPGs.

Nope... just go to Youtube and look at the number of watches and likes on the cut scenes for World of Warcraft alone. Every single player I knew in the game would rave when they managed to get to a cut scene and see some cool animation that enhanced the story line.

Think of cut scenes this way (using Star Wars as an example)... every single scene of Darth Vader searching for the droids, killing the ship captain, choking the arrogant naval officer, etc was a cut scene to give plot development and character story to the audience.

In an RPG you have an usual situation where the players are both audience and characters in the story. Carefully worked, a cut scene can fill in the details to the audience, and later that same information can be slowly filtered to the characters.

For example, in Carrion Crown, the information was filtered to the PCs over 4 books. By the time they had all of the clues they had no freaking clue what they clues meant, and they even missed that some of the info were clues at all. Had I inserted cut scenes, introducing the villain so the players got a taste of him and could really build a hatred of him, had I put in a cut scene of the research and development of the potion, then when the PCs were handed the clues they would have realized what they were. Addditionally, when the PCs finally fought the witches that produced the...

Well, the cut scenes in a movie are very different from the cut scenes in a video game. (In a movie, they're moving the story I'm watching along. In a video game, they're keeping me from participating in the story.)

Now, your experience may differ, and I never use youtube as a defence of an arguement...there's just about anything posted there...but at least among my friends and gamers, we all hate the cut scenes in video games and find very few of them to be cool. Normally its a "why isn't there a button to skip this part" moment.

But that's us.

That being said, I can see a use for cut scenes in some styles of gaming. In my games, I normally have a yahoo group set up so that players can post their own ideas and observations. In addition, they normally end up adopting an NPC for the party...either to fill a gap (like healer) or just because they like them. I use the group as a place to post NPC "diary" entries so that I can add observations and clues that the party may have missed.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

nexusblue wrote:


The characters want to charge the enemy for xp or loot or simply out of fear because you taught them to do exactly that by using cutscenes!

If you let the players attack the death knight, and he devastates the party killing some members and gives his advice to the remaining living, they learn. If they kill him and don't find the information they seek they learn.

Do your players ever fail? If they don't experience consequences for their choices, then you are training them to make choices without considering consequences. That is what running an agency rich game gets you! Players who think twice before killing kings and attacking death knights.

My players think long and hard before fighting, creatively attempt to solve problems and actively engage with my game and world because what they do matters.

You don't get respect from players by taking away their freedom. You get it by showing them anything they want to do in your game is earned.

Wow, this is very well said.

And yeah, let the players fail indeed. Some of the absolute best stories I've seen come out of TTRPGs have been where the PCs screwed up something early on, but then learned from their mistake and made a valiant turnaround that was far more heroic than the initial victory "planned."


DeathQuaker wrote:
Wow, this is very well said.

Thanks Deathquaker!


Quote:
The characters want to charge the enemy for xp or loot or simply out of fear because you taught them to do exactly that by using cutscenes!

I have to object to this on the principal that your making assumptions about my use of cut scenes.

the rest however was well said and taken into account.

thanks all for your input.


nexusphere wrote:
MagiMaster wrote:

The best time to use a cut scene to avoid breaking the flow would be at the beginning or end of a session (or as mentioned, between sessions). Spending 20 minutes expounding on the history of the big bad (preferably with some way to tie this back into your characters) could do a good job setting the mood for some people (or a good job losing their attention for others). Another case of "know your players."

Lochmonster wrote:

I've found the following blog in general and the three articles very helpful about how to handle players choices and there effects on the game in general and the DMs plans specifically:

Slaying the Quantum Ogre.

Having the Quantum Ogre for tea.

Ways you are ruining your game.

Err... I just read through those, and that guy has some serious issues with his writing style (or really more his argument style).

The example used in all those is the three groves with the ogre wherever the players go first and the macguffin wherever they go last. He goes on and on about how bad this is, except that isn't actually what he's arguing against. What he's actually arguing against is when the GM starts pulling weird reasons out to prevent the players from nailing things down before visiting those groves. You have to carefully sift through the comments to figure this out.

Overall, I'm not sure I could recommend those articles. There's some good ideas there, but they're badly presented.

Hi. I'm the author of Hack & Slash.

The "example" I used is not an example. It was part of an ongoing discussion about Illusionism started at Beedo's Death in the Liche House blog in the post...

Actually, I did read them in order. And I still didn't like your argument style. What you're arguing against is "My Precious Encounter" which I agree is bad (it's basically heavy-handed railroading). What you keep writing about is the "Quantum Ogre" which is a separate issue.

With "My Precious Encounter," the GM has an encounter planned and is determined that the players will encounter it, no matter what. In the example (or whatever you want to call it) he's using the "Quantum Ogre" to accomplish this, but he's also using it badly.

There are other ways the "Quantum Ogre" can come up. I see it as mainly a GM-prep-time saver. I have three places and two encounters (the ogre and the macguffin). I don't need to decide up front where they'll be. Assuming the players walk in blindly, I'll just run them in a specific order. If they don't go in blindly, I might have to nail down some details. Once nailed down, those details shouldn't change unless in makes in-game sense that they should have changed.

Let's expand on the example just a bit. Let's give the ogre a bit of motivation so the GM can extrapolate what happens in unforeseen circumstances. Let's say the ogre is just passing through and has nothing to do with the macguffin. Now, if the player's scry the glades, they'll see an ogre. If they then visit the other two, they won't encounter it, since the ogre has no reason to visit the other glades. They might even still get XP since they knowingly and successfully bypassed an encounter. No loss of player agency, and it's unlikely that they even know things weren't fixed before they started looking.

If the ogre was instead there to guard the macguffin, but was, at that moment, out hunting, it wouldn't be unreasonable for it to wander in on the players while they were stealing the thing. They'd have two (or more) different ogre encounters depending on when and where they run in to it.

See, the thing is, the GM does lie to the players, or at least hide things from them. It's part of the job, and every player I've played with expects it. You don't tell them how much HP the enemies have left (though you might hint at it). You don't tell them there's a thief hiding in the shadows (or even that they just failed a hidden perception roll). You don't tell them that there's an ogre in the first glade (unless they scout ahead). You can lie to the whole room 100% of the time if you're the GM since their willing suspension of disbelief permits that. This has nothing to do with them being stupid.

Your arguments make way too many assumptions about the kind of games I'm playing and the kind of people I'm playing with. Me and the people I play with enjoy the story and an internally-consistent world (verisimilitude) as much as we enjoy killing stuff and getting loot. GM actions that break verisimilitude bother me much more than the GM hiding things from me.

What matters most is fun. Second to that is that players feel they're having an effect on the story or world. Actually having an effect on the world is not that important as long as the first two are there. (It does take a good GM to really pull off major stuff, but the Quantum Ogre is minor.)

If the GM is failing to maintain that illusion, they're doing something wrong and should stick to writing the details down ahead of time until they get better at it. Any quantum anything should only stay unspecified until the players interact with it, which includes scouting, scrying, clairvoyance, etc. Arbitrary measures to prevent non-physical interaction is a separate problem.


You know what? You're totally right, Blue -- the "Non-interactive cut sceen(sic)" is obviously from the majority of all the advice above the best way to go. Obviously. You're also right that your players owe you. I'm glad we established that.

I'm interested if anywhere in the books (perhaps in the GM sections or elsewhere) there is advice or guidance on how, when and how often it is advised to strip players of their autonomy -- I as a person relatively new to Pathfinder (most of my experience is more free-form and with older editions) -- but one thing I've noticed is that Pathfinder is generally very good about having rules laid out for what seems to be almost all of the most important elements of the game. So if anybody in the thread can point me to any documentation, perhaps I can be more enlightened if this is indeed a trend.

I'm very interested in keeping my attention on this thread, because there is some very good advice (and suggested reading) flying around here. But I certainly don't harbor any illusions of changing anyone's mind. I do think soliciting advice when you've already made up your mind is somewhat of a sisyphus-ian endeavor, but I'm glad it's a discussion that took place, because I certainly profited by it.


MagiMaster wrote:
Actually, I did read them in order. And I still didn't like your argument style. What you're arguing against is "My Precious Encounter" which I agree is bad (it's basically heavy-handed railroading). What you keep writing about is the "Quantum Ogre" which is a separate issue.

I have to wonder if you're just messing with me now.

Those three linked articles are parts 2, 3, and an addendum.

There is another post that is the first post in the series.

That is why it seems presented badly.

You can find the original post by clicking on the 'quantum ogre' tag. You can read extensively about agency by clicking on the 'player agency' tag.

MagiMaster wrote:
With "My Precious Encounter," the GM has an encounter planned and is determined that the players will encounter it, no matter what. . . I see it as mainly a GM-prep-time saver. I have three places and two encounters (the ogre and the macguffin). I don't need to decide up front where they'll be. Assuming the players walk in blindly, I'll just run them in a specific order. If they don't go in blindly, I might have to nail down some details. Once nailed down, those details shouldn't change unless in makes in-game sense that they should have changed. . . See, the thing is, the GM does lie to the players, or at least hide things from them. It's part of the job, and every player I've played with expects it. You don't tell them how much HP the enemies have left (though you might hint at it). You don't tell them there's a thief hiding in the shadows (or even that they just failed a hidden perception roll). You don't tell them that there's an ogre in the first glade (unless they scout ahead). . .

A casual perusal of the blog will show I agree with you 100%.

MagiMaster wrote:
You can lie to the whole room 100% of the time if you're the GM since their willing suspension of disbelief permits that. This has nothing to do with them being stupid.

This isn't lying. Telling them "You don't know" or "Your character doesn't see anyone." or "You don't know how many hit points are left, but he looks ok." are in fact honest representations of the game world.

MagiMaster wrote:

Your arguments make way too many assumptions about the kind of games I'm playing and the kind of people I'm playing with. Me and the people I play with enjoy the story and an internally-consistent world (verisimilitude) as much as we enjoy killing stuff and getting loot. GM actions that break verisimilitude bother me much more than the GM hiding things from me.

What matters most is fun. Second to that is that players feel they're having an effect on the story or world. Actually having an effect on the world is not that important as long as the first two are there. (It does take a good GM to really pull off major stuff, but the Quantum Ogre is minor.)

Again, I question if you actually read the text of the posts in question. The statement I make above is exactly the thrust of the article. The entire series begins with the quote "You think you're saving effort. You're not. You think you're making things more 'fun' for the players, but really, you're ruining their fun." because the whole series is about maximizing whatever is fun for your group

MagiMaster wrote:
If the GM is failing to maintain that illusion, they're doing something wrong and should stick to writing the details down ahead of time until they get better at it. Any quantum anything should only stay unspecified until the players interact with it, which includes scouting, scrying, clairvoyance, etc. Arbitrary measures to prevent non-physical interaction is a separate problem.

I say exactly this identical point in the series. In fact, the statement you made is the whole point of why I wrote the thing.

I think if you'll peruse the tens of thousands of words on the subject I've written on the blog, you'll discover that you are arguing against a stance I am not taking. If you wish to take one piece out of context then that is your right as a reader, but it is not an accurate assessment of my position.

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