I have a bit of an issue. It appears that some don’t care for my style as a game-master of tabletop role-playing games. I’ve been said to “Railroad” my players through their adventures, which generally isn’t the case, but the simple fact they feel that way is a real problem.
So, what should I do about this? Well, I’ve actually been dealing with this already, by constantly asking the players what they want to do, how they would like to handle an issue, and making it clear that I’m leaving the story completely open, so they can do as they wish.
I’ve actually been doing this all along, but apparently some people don’t see it that way, so… I guess I need to do something more?
Well, it pains me to say this, but I think we might just be changing up some things with our actual-play roleplaying podcast, “Knights of the Tabletop”. You won’t hear the results of this until next year, when Season 2 actually starts, but it’s coming. So what is “It”?
I think we’re going fully Story-mode.
To that end, I believe it might be best to set aside the planned game for Season 2 (Feng Shui 2), and instead go with something a bit more story-driven. Something more roleplaying-focused. Something that is 100% driven by the players choices.
Something Powered by the Apocalypse.
Specifically, I’m thinking of running “Dungeon World”.
If you have listened to our April KOTT shows, where we played “Monster of the Week”, then you’ve heard a game that is Powered by the Apocalypse. MotW’s core rules are built off of the bones of “Apocalypse World”, which many games use for their engine. They are collectively “Powered by the Apocalypse”, and while not completely cross-platform compatible, they are all fairly straightforward and easy to pick up and play, if you’ve ever played any other PbtA-based game.
Anyway, one of the best features of PbtA games is that they are driven by player choices. The Game-Master doesn’t roll any dice, and just tosses an initial problem or conflict out to the players to deal with, and lets them go about roleplaying through it. Characters don’t fail in the classic sense most of the time, as “failure” more often than not simply means they succeeded, but with a complication, that keeps things interesting.
It’s kind of hard to railroad a game, when the players are making all of the choices. Hell, you can even play some PbtA games completely headless, with the group of players working around a set issue/conflict without a GM present at all!
Regardless, I have been really jazzed about PbtA since I ran Monster of the Week, and now I have several more games that are also Powered by the Apocalypse on the way. Specifically, the aforementioned “Dungeon World”, as well as “Mythos World” (Lovecraftian Horror), and “Uncharted Worlds” (Sci-Fi). I would have just bought DW, because that’s what I’d like to run for my group, but I’m a sucker for Lovecraft, and Sci-Fi, as well.
That all said, it isn’t like I don’t want to play “Feng Shui 2”, believe me, I do! It’s my favorite game, actually. But PbtA games would be much easier to deal with in our current manner of recording the podcast, which is online, over Discord. Plus it is much easier to learn and play in general, so…
… if that doesn’t solve this alleged Railroading, then nothing will.