Author Topic: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt  (Read 12602 times)

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InnaBinder

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #40 on: September 16, 2011, 02:31:04 AM »
The second option is to cave and offer them endless rolled encounters.

Why is that a bad thing? Isn't the very core idea of D&D to find interesting creatures, murder them, loot the bodies, rinse and repeat? Maybe they indeed don't care about insane orcs that rape buildings, and want to go inside dungeons to see if they can find a dragon.

Killing psycho out for blood and treasure is a fantasy archetype after all. :smirk

My players and I tend to get very confused as to why the half-green dragon vampire druid is in league with the half-silver dragon formian.

I think possibly I need to find a better encounter roller.

But that's even better! Now that you got the player's atention, throw the plot of green and silver dragons teaming up to take over the world with their spawns! :D

While I've run plots with half-dragons, green dragons, vampires, druids, silver dragons, formians, and half-demon formians, um...I'm really coming up with a blank on half-silver dragon formian. What happened?
A wizard did it.

Quote
The root cause is beyond you. Literally.

A lot of GMs treat the Plot as an excuse to tell their story to the players, who basically wind up feeling like they're just actors in someone's script. The natural overreaction is the punish the GM by fleeing any and all plot and basically doing anything that can't be reasonably expected just to have some freedom of action.

This is compounded by a legacy of games where:
-GM-Player relationship is adversarial. A significant number of older games treat it as a contest between Player and GM, within rules. An example is the original Tomb of Horrors.
-Game plots are equated to theater or book plots(they are not, they only share elements), and the critical part is that game plots are a confluence of actor and environment, following book plots make it linear.

WoD players know this well, oWoD has a bad case of Powerful NPCs doing all kinds of cool things and the PCs are supposed to be the audience, hooks in your backstory are abused to cause misery to the character. The backlash is the Trenchcoat-Katana-Orphan-Loner, a combat powerful character that has no possible attachment to plot, and thus cannot be exploited.

You can't solve this by changing your GMing. Your most feasible option is to talk it through with them, work out why they are avoiding Interesting Things so badly. The second option is to cave and offer them endless rolled encounters.
Again, this happens regardless of whether I'm GMing or not; it's not just 'my players'.

As for talking to the players, when I have used or seen this approach, answers range from mumbling, non-commital shrugs to some version of 'we want OUR interesting things to happen; as soon as they're in the hands of the GM, we lose ownership of them, so we're again left seeking OUR interesting things.'  That hasn't been the only response given, but the others I've heard have often run with a similar theme.

'Caving and offering endless rolled encounters' is obviously not a solution I can use if I'm (ever again) on the player side of the screen, and is a decidedly dull and un-fun option for me from behind it.  It's not fun for me as a player when the GM does that, if it comes down to it.  I'd much rather find a solution that enables everyone gaming to have a good time, rather than one or more person sacrificing his/her fun so that one or more other folks can enjoy the game more.


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veekie

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #41 on: September 16, 2011, 09:44:18 AM »
Quote
As for talking to the players, when I have used or seen this approach, answers range from mumbling, non-commital shrugs to some version of 'we want OUR interesting things to happen; as soon as they're in the hands of the GM, we lose ownership of them, so we're again left seeking OUR interesting things.'  That hasn't been the only response given, but the others I've heard have often run with a similar theme.
Mystery solved.
It is indeed the issue I suspected. They've been rammed head first through the plot so often that their instinctive reaction is to seize it and steer it by their hands. Except they have no idea where they're steering it and it goes nowhere. Its not a rare condition, especially for jaded gamers.

So what they want is either sandbox, or collaborative storytelling. The first is going to be a crazy amount of work, the second is tricky with D&D(and I'm not too familiar with those systems so yeah).

Maybe try the 'Reactive Plot' trick? Basically fake a sandbox by having most plot lines 3-4 scenes long as a maximum. Cut down on the grand arcs that require setup and linkage, whenever they turn away from the plot, there you make the branching a new plot on the spot. The old plot's consequences continue on for 2-3 scenes as it wraps itself up, to give a semblance of continuity.
Its kinda difficult, but it MIGHT achieve a happy medium.
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Necrosnoop110

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #42 on: September 16, 2011, 03:46:15 PM »
I agree with most of the comments so far. For me personally I think most of the time I've run across this situation it has come about from one or two things (and these two things are not mutually exclusive).

(1) DM or Story Obviousness: By this I mean the story is either cheesy/cliche or completely transparent or lacks the appropriate level of sophistication. Or the DM has failed in sustaining verisimilitude or other-wise failed to keep the story afloat and seamless.

(2) Player Ego: Sometimes players love to show off how smart they are. Or how much "game mastery" they possess. Typically, these are the same people who ALWAYS get every twist, plot turn, or surprise ending to EVERY movie, book, or story they encounter. These are the folks for whom all of life is simple and obvious. A very few times these wiseacres are actually that smart but the majority of the time they just lack the social graces to not come off as smart-asses (or they simply don't care if they do come off that way).

The solution to (1) is to become a better DM and a better story teller. The solution to (2) is to either have a frank talk with the player and see if things can be changed for the better or to move on and game with other people.  
« Last Edit: September 16, 2011, 03:49:53 PM by Necrosnoop110 »

InnaBinder

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #43 on: September 16, 2011, 04:19:27 PM »
I agree with most of the comments so far. For me personally I think most of the time I've run across this situation it has come about from one or two things (and these two things are not mutually exclusive).

(1) DM or Story Obviousness: By this I mean the story is either cheesy/cliche or completely transparent or lacks the appropriate level of sophistication. Or the DM has failed in sustaining verisimilitude or other-wise failed to keep the story afloat and seamless.

(2) Player Ego: Sometimes players love to show off how smart they are. Or how much "game mastery" they possess. Typically, these are the same people who ALWAYS get every twist, plot turn, or surprise ending to EVERY movie, book, or story they encounter. These are the folks for whom all of life is simple and obvious. A very few times these wiseacres are actually that smart but the majority of the time they just lack the social graces to not come off as smart-asses (or they simply don't care if they do come off that way).

The solution to (1) is to become a better DM and a better story teller. The solution to (2) is to either have a frank talk with the player and see if things can be changed for the better or to move on and game with other people.  
The notion that one or the other, or both, of these problems has reared its head in one of my fellow players practically every time I've been in an RPG for more than 30 years is. . . troubling to me for the welfare of my hobby of choice.
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Necrosnoop110

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #44 on: September 16, 2011, 06:58:25 PM »
I agree with most of the comments so far. For me personally I think most of the time I've run across this situation it has come about from one or two things (and these two things are not mutually exclusive).

(1) DM or Story Obviousness: By this I mean the story is either cheesy/cliche or completely transparent or lacks the appropriate level of sophistication. Or the DM has failed in sustaining verisimilitude or other-wise failed to keep the story afloat and seamless.

(2) Player Ego: Sometimes players love to show off how smart they are. Or how much "game mastery" they possess. Typically, these are the same people who ALWAYS get every twist, plot turn, or surprise ending to EVERY movie, book, or story they encounter. These are the folks for whom all of life is simple and obvious. A very few times these wiseacres are actually that smart but the majority of the time they just lack the social graces to not come off as smart-asses (or they simply don't care if they do come off that way).

The solution to (1) is to become a better DM and a better story teller. The solution to (2) is to either have a frank talk with the player and see if things can be changed for the better or to move on and game with other people.  
The notion that one or the other, or both, of these problems has reared its head in one of my fellow players practically every time I've been in an RPG for more than 30 years is. . . troubling to me for the welfare of my hobby of choice.
I've lucked out I guess. About 20 years of gaming, over three states, and in multiple cities, with both close friends and practical strangers and its only been a serious issue a handful of times.

Vaerenth

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #45 on: September 16, 2011, 09:35:28 PM »
This website has some insightful info on designing a somewhat more reactive campaign. Warning: It is a long read.

http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/node-design/node-design.html
4e tried to fix this problem by toning it all down by a lot and eliminating the wild card spells that were too powerful or dynamic. The issue is no one likes to go from Phenomenal Cosmic Power to itty bitty living space. Which is exactly what 4e tried to force on people.

kitep

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #46 on: September 16, 2011, 10:39:14 PM »
Interesting read.

InnaBinder

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #47 on: September 16, 2011, 11:42:31 PM »
This website has some insightful info on designing a somewhat more reactive campaign. Warning: It is a long read.

http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/node-design/node-design.html
I would argue - on behalf of those who cry foul at the Plot-Monster - that all of the choices presented in that article are illusory, making the presented concept one where All Roads Lead To Rome.  If all of the plot-related choices a player can make lead to one, two, or three conclusions, then the reality is the player only had three plot-related choices (at the most) to begin with.  Put another way, it doesn't matter whether they started putting the clown jigsaw puzzle together by finding the bits that make up the face or by putting the edges together first; they're still going to wind up with a predetermined picture of a clown when all the pieces are assembled.
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veekie

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #48 on: September 17, 2011, 12:43:30 AM »
Correct, but the key is the illusion of choice. You cannot create real choice without exponential amounts of work.
The mind transcends the body.
It's also a little cold because of that.
Please get it a blanket.

I wish I could read your mind,
I can barely read mine.

"Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. At 2:15, it begins rolling up characters."

[spoiler]
"Just what do you think the moon up in the sky is? Everyone sees that big, round shiny thing and thinks there must be something round up there, right? That's just silly. The truth is much more awesome than that. You can almost never see the real Moon, and its appearance is death to humans. You can only see the Moon when it's reflected in things. And the things it reflects in, like water or glass, can all be broken, right? Since the moon you see in the sky is just being reflected in the heavens, if you tear open the heavens it's easy to break it~"
-Ibuki Suika, on overkill

To sumbolaion diakoneto moi, basilisk ouranionon.
Epigenentheto, apoleia keraune hos timeis pteirei.
Hekatonkatis kai khiliakis astrapsato.
Khiliarkhou Astrape!
[/spoiler]

There is no higher price than 'free'.

"I won't die. I've been ordered not to die."

InnaBinder

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #49 on: September 17, 2011, 01:26:37 AM »
Correct, but the key is the illusion of choice. You cannot create real choice without exponential amounts of work.
It would seem to me, based on the impetus to start this thread, that the mere illusion of choice is insufficient to quell player revolt.
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veekie

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #50 on: September 17, 2011, 04:10:25 AM »
That isn't a matter of illusion quality, they already determined to revolt before they ever saw the plot.
The mind transcends the body.
It's also a little cold because of that.
Please get it a blanket.

I wish I could read your mind,
I can barely read mine.

"Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. At 2:15, it begins rolling up characters."

[spoiler]
"Just what do you think the moon up in the sky is? Everyone sees that big, round shiny thing and thinks there must be something round up there, right? That's just silly. The truth is much more awesome than that. You can almost never see the real Moon, and its appearance is death to humans. You can only see the Moon when it's reflected in things. And the things it reflects in, like water or glass, can all be broken, right? Since the moon you see in the sky is just being reflected in the heavens, if you tear open the heavens it's easy to break it~"
-Ibuki Suika, on overkill

To sumbolaion diakoneto moi, basilisk ouranionon.
Epigenentheto, apoleia keraune hos timeis pteirei.
Hekatonkatis kai khiliakis astrapsato.
Khiliarkhou Astrape!
[/spoiler]

There is no higher price than 'free'.

"I won't die. I've been ordered not to die."

kitep

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #51 on: September 17, 2011, 04:18:33 AM »
Use reverse psychology.  Allow them to do anything *except* go after the plot  :D

InnaBinder

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #52 on: September 17, 2011, 04:45:15 AM »
Use reverse psychology.  Allow them to do anything *except* go after the plot  :D

Could you give an example of how this would work?  Could you give an example of how I would do this if I were a player, and not the GM?
Quote from: veekie
Insert Quote
That isn't a matter of illusion quality, they already determined to revolt before they ever saw the plot.
Hence, my concern with finding an effective way of preventing the revolt so that everyone can have fun gaming.
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Vaerenth

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #53 on: September 17, 2011, 08:30:49 AM »
If they don't wanna follow any plot then what can you do? Just say stuff happens in the world and they're free to just go out and roll with it. Learn to do the heavy improvising. It will take time to get used to, but maybe it will work.
4e tried to fix this problem by toning it all down by a lot and eliminating the wild card spells that were too powerful or dynamic. The issue is no one likes to go from Phenomenal Cosmic Power to itty bitty living space. Which is exactly what 4e tried to force on people.

veekie

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #54 on: September 17, 2011, 08:53:36 AM »
Quote
Hence, my concern with finding an effective way of preventing the revolt so that everyone can have fun gaming.
You can't prevent it, because in the described groups, the revolt was well under way by the time you got to them.

What you can do from here is just improvise to ride along with the revolt, make the illusion easier to fit into their expected short attention spans. In short, react. Plan no further than 2 session ahead.
The mind transcends the body.
It's also a little cold because of that.
Please get it a blanket.

I wish I could read your mind,
I can barely read mine.

"Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. At 2:15, it begins rolling up characters."

[spoiler]
"Just what do you think the moon up in the sky is? Everyone sees that big, round shiny thing and thinks there must be something round up there, right? That's just silly. The truth is much more awesome than that. You can almost never see the real Moon, and its appearance is death to humans. You can only see the Moon when it's reflected in things. And the things it reflects in, like water or glass, can all be broken, right? Since the moon you see in the sky is just being reflected in the heavens, if you tear open the heavens it's easy to break it~"
-Ibuki Suika, on overkill

To sumbolaion diakoneto moi, basilisk ouranionon.
Epigenentheto, apoleia keraune hos timeis pteirei.
Hekatonkatis kai khiliakis astrapsato.
Khiliarkhou Astrape!
[/spoiler]

There is no higher price than 'free'.

"I won't die. I've been ordered not to die."

TenaciousJ

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #55 on: September 17, 2011, 08:08:00 PM »
This may only be tangentially related.

I've found my players don't mind following a plot if they get the perception that following plots still has the possibility for different outcomes.  I like to put them in situations where they're under a timer to complete a task so the outcomes are "win and stop the bad thing from happening," "win but do it too slowly so something bad happens," or "lose."  Two villains previously encountered might be working together.  Focusing on one allows the other to accomplish his goals.  If they're encountered together, one may run the moment the other one is attacked or killed.

I try to be upfront about the type of game I'm running.  I'm concurrently running 2 games.  1 game has huge world-changing events happening.  The players know that the game has been set up to allow them to be badass heroes.  The other game is about a courier guild sending out deliveries to dangerous and exotic locations.  The players are allowed to be completely amoral.  They burned down half a town and killed everyone who didn't flee to make the delivery to a tower in the city where a senile wizard studied, having forgotten he even ordered the delivery made.

Once I've made it clear that they can be the type of characters they want, my groups tend to go to predictable points in the games.  Once I know what they want, I can let them go almost anywhere.

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #56 on: September 17, 2011, 08:48:00 PM »
^+1

As a player and a GM I think "buy in" is incredibly important, and does a lot to counteract the railroading feeling.

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #57 on: September 18, 2011, 04:41:36 PM »

Maybe try the 'Reactive Plot' trick? Basically fake a sandbox by having most plot lines 3-4 scenes long as a maximum. Cut down on the grand arcs that require setup and linkage, whenever they turn away from the plot, there you make the branching a new plot on the spot. The old plot's consequences continue on for 2-3 scenes as it wraps itself up, to give a semblance of continuity.
Its kinda difficult, but it MIGHT achieve a happy medium.

This.  This is the thing I do that I totally have trouble explaining to anyone else as I don't think it's not normal.

It works really really well for me.  To the point I don't usually have an initial plot in mind at the start of a new campaign, just lots of interesting things in the world the PCs could get involved in if they did various things.

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #58 on: September 18, 2011, 04:53:58 PM »

Maybe try the 'Reactive Plot' trick? Basically fake a sandbox by having most plot lines 3-4 scenes long as a maximum. Cut down on the grand arcs that require setup and linkage, whenever they turn away from the plot, there you make the branching a new plot on the spot. The old plot's consequences continue on for 2-3 scenes as it wraps itself up, to give a semblance of continuity.
Its kinda difficult, but it MIGHT achieve a happy medium.

This.  This is the thing I do that I totally have trouble explaining to anyone else as I don't think it's not normal.

It works really really well for me.  To the point I don't usually have an initial plot in mind at the start of a new campaign, just lots of interesting things in the world the PCs could get involved in if they did various things.
As I've tried repeatedly to indicate, it has been my consistent experience that players react with OOC snide comments and or "Plot-Monster! RUN!" tactics when they see a plotline developing at the hands of the GM, whether it is predetermined by the GM's storyline or reactive based on PC interactions.  Apparently, once the GM starts shaping a storyline, the players feel they've lost ownership of their characters' motivations, and work to get that ownership back.
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kamikasei

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Re: "It's a Plot-Monster! RUN!" - Thoughts on Player Revolt
« Reply #59 on: September 18, 2011, 05:04:59 PM »
Do you have any idea what alternative the players want when they make these comments? To me it sounds an awful lot like nothing the GM might do would satisfy them - if even having NPCs act to further their own agendas in reaction to the players' behaviour is "too much plot", this seems less like a valid objection and more like simple unpleasable dickery.
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[spoiler]
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