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Sunday, July 10, 2011

How Do You Handle a Campaign That is Designed to Change Midstream (ex: Evernight) Tracks?

What I mean by the title of this post is this:  in a campaign like Evernight for Savage Worlds, the PCs go into the campaign expected a fairly typical Fantasy genre campaign... which quickly becomes fight for survival against an alien invasion from beyond.  Do you tell your players up front what the plot twist is going to be, or do you spring it on them in the hopes that they'll accept it?

In my looking at settings for Savage Worlds, I've been rereading bit and pieces of Evernight.  Great concept, horrible execution.  This is railroading at it's very best (worst).  Assumptions are built into the storyline that force the PCs to go a certain way or the GM finds them off script, off the reservation and himself scrambling to plug the holes.

Do you tell the players that the train is heading in a certain direction and they need to follow along?  Do you strip Evernight down to it's core concepts, and let the game go where it may?  The second option requires a strong and skilled GM.

This crap keeps me up at night.  I find it real frustrating that a cool concept like Evernight could be so poorly executed.

6 comments:

  1. I think it mostly depends on the players. If I'm running with friends, I would probably go ahead and spring it on them, especially if I know they like that sort of adventure. People I don't know, I'd tell them. Individuals can be picky about their entertainment, and I'd hate to suddenly have a player quit the campaign b/c they can't stand scifi in their fantasy.

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  2. For something like Evernight, I would tell the players that a twist was coming up, but I wouldn't explain what it was.

    If I'd been with the same players for a while, and we had a good level of trust -- as with my current group -- I wouldn't tell them about the twist and I'd just spring it on them.

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  3. I agree with 2eDM that it depends on the group. The last thing you want is player revolt, however a little railroading is fun if you know they can roll with it.

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  4. Part of the art of GMing requires the GM to provide a story with available options for the PCs to explore. Some of the best GMing I've managed to pull off is when the players have their own agenda and I must creatively supply new material. In doing so, pre-written adventure modules become a sourcebook, rather than canon. Occasionally, things will spring back into the original adventure if I am clever enough to provide an enticing reason for the players to choose to do something.

    Another point to this is that there is an unwritten contract between a me and my players. They can do anything they want in my world. If I am unable to provide the kind of story or details I find satisfying I simply stop game play for the day.

    I'll then create something appropriate for what they would like to accomplish. Sometimes when I sit back and consider their needs I am still able to shoehorn existing adventures or material. Or plant the seed in their adventure to move towards an overarching goal.

    This all said I would not share any traumatic plot twists. If whatever I am GMing is not fun for my players we can just stop and do something else.

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  5. Spring it on them. It's a plot twist.
    The players are constantly pulling plot twists on me through their PC's when I'm DMing, turn-about is fair play.

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  6. I struggle with the same issue. For me, it tends to be more of the genre twist, though, rather than just the plot twist. Suddenly discovering that you have aliens in your fantasy doesn't invalidate any of your character concepts. Suddenly having your spec ops team fall through a wormhole and end up in a D&D setting really does.

    On the one hand, being up front with your players is considerate and respectful. It also helps to make sure that they don't create a character that is rendered useless by the plot twist.

    On the other, telling them the twist destroys the surprise value. Also, you will end up with players who add elements to their characters that don't make any sense until the plot twist happens.

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