A *real* debate: Dungeons and Dragons

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Elseenas
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A *real* debate: Dungeons and Dragons

Postby Elseenas » Wed Apr 03, 2002 11:00 pm

We lost a player over the debate in guns, had a vicious flame war over religion, and have hammered politics into the ground. Time to move on to something we all feel passionately about.

Which kind of DM are you or do you prefer? Storybook or Free Form?



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Yayaril
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Postby Yayaril » Wed Apr 03, 2002 11:10 pm

What's the difference between the two?

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Malacar
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Postby Malacar » Thu Apr 04, 2002 4:39 am

I prefer freeform. Storybook is too restrictive.

Of course, I have been running D&D for over 15 years, so it's a little easier with experience.

For newer GMs, I think that storybook might be easier, but veteran players seem to feel way too confined in those parameters, and new GMs make the mistake of trying to stay too close to the book, and force PCs to do things they may not want to do, and hamper their role-playing. Then it devolves into hack and slash.. At least that's been my experiences in the past when I have tried to run, or played in, book based games.

Just my opinion of course. Image
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Postby Rynlaeis » Thu Apr 04, 2002 4:48 am

I prefer free-form, but with the right DM, I've found storybook to be more interesting. Unfortunately usually the DM isn't right, and it ends up not being fun, so..
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Postby Rynlaeis » Thu Apr 04, 2002 4:50 am

For Yayaril,
Free form is basically letting the players do whatever they want, then as the DM you make the world and the NPCs react in some sort of relatively logical manner to whatever the players decide to do. Storybook style is more like a classic console RPG, where you follow a set storyline that takes you along a predefined path that eventually ends up in (hopefully) you defeating the superevil master and winning. Final Fantasy is storybook, while Daggerfall is a decent example of free-form. As far as video games go, anyway, but PnP is similar in nature.
Elseenas
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Postby Elseenas » Thu Apr 04, 2002 5:43 am

Yayaril:

For instance, I've been Dungeon Mastering games for ten years:

I design the world and let the players run around. If they renig on a contract with a merchant or completely abandon that "storyline" it really isn't a problem and they are 100% to find other things to do, but they have to realize that said family will probably not be happy with them and it will eventually catch up to them.

If a character gets lost in my game, there is no guarantee they will ever make it back. One time the entire party ended up on another plane of existence with no clear way back--which they managed to do because they charmed one of my guards at a portal (I really was not expecting that from this group). If they wanted to make it back to Faerun (our world at the time) they needed to go through the process of finding a way getting back.

In a storybook game, they would have found a lucky portal or the DM would have made it easy for them to fit the clues together to get back. Either that or the charm wouldn't have worked (regardless of the actual roll of the dice). I didn't make it hard for them, but I didn't make it particularly easy (actually they decided to stick around the Outlands, close to Arborea, and we had a great time).

The ultimate storybook author has a straight, linear plot planned out and, in the words of Lisa Padol, should be writing novels and not modules. You get selected into a plot and then everything that happens from there is preordained.

For instance, I know one guy who is the absolute in terms of a storybook style (he is also a rules nazi in other people's games). The party was assaulted by goblins where they had 10 come from nowhere for every one they killed. The party was overwhelmed (of course) and put into a goblin cage.

One of the party members does an escape check, she gets a natural 20 which, with her modifier, turned into a 33. Emphasize that this is a goblin cage.

No go, because the story required that they stay put.

Another note. Your likelyhood of meeting famous NPCs in a free form game tends to be low. Your probability in a story game tends to be quite high (though this really depends on the individual DM more than anything).

Anyways, I haven't even started The Rant yet and this is already too long Image



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Elseenas
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Postby Elseenas » Thu Apr 04, 2002 5:48 am

Malacar:

As a general rule I'll agree but it has been my experience that it isn't so much a skill issue as a personality issue and where they want to spend the time.

Free form takes more time to set up and you never have a clear idea of what comes next, but some people *thrive* with that while others absolutely falter.

In my games I can generally spot whether someone is more storybook or more free form. If they are more free form they are probobly enjoying my game more, but I can also see whether they would make a good free form DM. Sometimes players with virtually no experience have simply taken to it.

From other players I get constant whining about how I'm not providing any direction for the characters (nevermind the 10 or hooks I've left available).

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Elinera
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Postby Elinera » Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:30 am

I've been DMing for about a year
I sometimes do freeform, other times storyline
i also tend to use the forgotten realms setting sometimes as i feel the most comfortable about it
and my group of 5 players are have not been playing d&d long and i often have to nudge them along
very fun though
moved recently and stopped DMing as i live too far away from them *cry*

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Yayaril
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Postby Yayaril » Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:39 am

I guess I run storybook games. However, I would never make anyone's efforts useless like that DM you mentioned, Elseenas. I reward background stories with bonus items, experience, and feats, so my players almost always write them up. This way, I get a clear idea as to the motivations of my characters and can use that to guide them along. I let the players choose what they do, but 90% of the time, they follow the plotline I set up because I put in enough motivational stimulus to make them follow it. If they do something unexpected and break off the path, they will probably end up getting steered back towards the adventure I put time into designing with other motivational stimulus or events, but I'd never flat out make their efforts ineffective. I'd also try not to let them know they were put back onto the main adventure until they were into it, that way they'd think the adventure was more far reaching and tangled.


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Elseenas
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Postby Elseenas » Thu Apr 04, 2002 7:32 am

Elinera:
Out of curiosity, where did you move to?

I've found that when your a DM, particularly one with more than a year of experience under her belt, you can find a group once you meet some people.

Meet some people you think might be interested and then put out the word that you are putting together a session, they will come :-)

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Elseenas of No House Worth Mentioning
Elseenas
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Postby Elseenas » Thu Apr 04, 2002 7:35 am

Yayaril:

Heh, fair enough: that sounds like a hybrid form I see floating around occasionally. Its actually quite effective.

This particular DM is extreme. I have a long list of similar stories from his games. ::shakes head:: one of the many reasons we don't get along.


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Elseenas of No House Worth Mentioning
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Postby Guest » Thu Apr 04, 2002 7:52 am

If you need to find players or a DM go to http://www.fathomgate.com
kiryan
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Postby kiryan » Thu Apr 04, 2002 8:44 am

i like story book because im not all that good with making shit up as i go. plus i hate having a dominate personailty ask all the questions and do all the stuffs while everyone else sits around and watches.

your in a room
how big is the room
its a big room, 10 people can mill around comfortably.
how high is the ceiling
average height about 8 ft tall
what color are the walls
the walls are the same color as all the other walls you asked me about.
is it carpeted
does it matter? ok yea its carpeted
ok i take my shoes off and run knead my feet in the carpet
ok you knead your feet in the carpet and get a hardon, does anyone wanna actually do soemthing?
Taegost
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Postby Taegost » Thu Apr 04, 2002 12:39 pm

When I DM, I prefer a hybrid style... I like to take preset module, say out of a Dungeon magazine, or off the shelf, or, now with the Internet... Muahahahaha...
But then I modify it, throw out the background parts that I don't want in there, and find some way to get it started off...
From there, it's often helter-skelter, anything goes, holyshitballzBatman 4 level 3 characters just took out 2 Spriggans in giant form after 3 got smacked around...
Oftentimes, the modules don't get completed... But that's mostly because one of the players I had <cough, cough> decided that "Oh, 2 gnomes? We can kill them, c'mon, SLAY!"
Unfortunately, that was his answer to the Elven Prince... And the drunken Goblins that were SUPPOSED to help the party... And finally, the Red Dragon polymorphed into a Drow Wizard... RIP Dwarf-Dude.
But I find that for myself, it works well, and when I get bored, I just start throwing out random stuff... Which usually results in my character almost getting killed... BTW, don't EVER cast Mend on an open wound BEFORE taking out the crossbow bolt... It's not pretty Image

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Taegost L'Mirrahn - STUPER DRUID(tm)
Zrax
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Postby Zrax » Thu Apr 04, 2002 3:05 pm

Cool topic.

I have been a DM for about 8 years, and had the pleasure of playing under both an amazing storybook style and freeform style DM for many years prior to that. In my experience which style is best is determined by a few factors.

If its a short lived campaign, I would go with storybook for sure. If the group dynamic was one where you have one dominate person like kiryan mentioned I would also go with storybook.

That being said I really prefer freeform as a player and as a DM. Its more work, and the way I do things It is a pseudo hybrid storybook/freeform where I plan my major story events generic enough that they can occur whenever or whatever the party does, so that focus is maintained.

The big problem with this style is that things can often spiral and different situations can lead to inconsistancies in your story so you have to be very careful, especially if you have an overly anilitical person in the group.

Just my 2 cents
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Postby vezasee » Thu Apr 04, 2002 3:52 pm

I've only been a DM for a couple of months, and i have never tried to run a module, every body in my group is also a DM and all but one are free form, the last campaign we started was a free floater group, you got to play previously existing charaters from campaigns that have died (i.e. that are no longer played). It was horrendous, i sat down and said they better know what they wanted to do becuase i didn't have a single adventure idea. It was pretty nasty for me but the guys loved it. They started by killing a newbie party then wreaked havok on the country side. The depraved shit my guys came up with still turns my stomach.
We have one guy who will plan everything to a fault but if you diverge from his path, he gets up and leaves. And our favorite DM plans absolutely nothing, and we love him, cause he thinks fast, and can screw your head around with minimal effort.

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Elinera
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Postby Elinera » Fri Apr 05, 2002 3:00 am

I'm still in New Jersey Elseenas
but my group all lived in the next town over and it was easy to get to each other's houses by bus as none of us have cars
but i moved about 20 minutes away and the highway now separates us
i actually left my books, dice, and records at one of their houses *cry*
im very much a hermit, i hate socializing, and my old d&d group was a bunch of guys i've known for 6 years...very hard to find people around these towns who have things in common with me so i gave up searching, hehe

Jennie
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Postby Elinera » Fri Apr 05, 2002 3:20 am

The last adventure i DM'd
i wrote the 3 page intro story, designed a map, had 4 different possible goals mapped out which i didnt tell the players and let it coast purely on their own decisions
i used the dice and random system for treasure and it depended on what you rolled that you received a certain treasure. It was tons of fun and well received by my fellow players

Jennie Image
moritheil
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Postby moritheil » Fri Apr 05, 2002 8:42 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kiaransalee:
If you need to find players or a DM go to http://www.fathomgate.com</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thanks Kia! =)

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