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Made in us
Unhealthy Competition With Other Legions




Philadelphia PA

So I have a lot of experience as an rpg player and a decent amount running DnD/Pathfinder adventures from books. But now my group is looking for something new and I just finished the Darth Bane book trilogy so I'm cooking up some ideas for a Star Wars game.

My issue is I don't really know where to start. Obviously there's knowing the system and saying "I want the players to go here and fight X amount of thugs, then here where they can learn about Y", but there's the larger overarching story to be written. What I'm getting at is how do you take separate scenes and plot elements and bind them into a coherent narrative?

Especially with a setting that's more open to different possibilities how do I keep things going without railroading? In a traditional DnD dungeon it's easy to motivate players with loot, story based motives, etc. But when the characters can hop on a shuttle and leave the planet why would they do what I want?

I've been trying to reflect on when I've been part of more narrative, less game-y RPG campaigns - Shadowrun and Vampire The Masquerade mostly. Those games really lived or died on the flexibility of the GM to facilitate character growth, to roll with different motivations and allow the players some degree of freedom. I can handle that, and I think good story design will allow me to keep things moving.

I guess my issue is more with writing in general, how do I build a story when I just have an idea?
   
Made in us
Death-Dealing Dark Angels Devastator



Southeastern U.S.A.

I am by far no expert. I have been gaming for almost 30 years off and on. I find that when I am not using printed adventures, what works for me is to set up some general ideas of scenarios or encounters that can occur from my base "hook scenario" and then go from there. You don't have to railroad players into what you want, but try to let it flow naturally to your next encounter based upon their actions. They don't know what your overall plot or story is so try to make it feel like it is their idea to follow up on that clue or go to that specific place. If they don't follow the logical "path" to get there, then either have a few random scenario/encounters that could put them back on track or modify your expected scenario/encounter so that they get the next piece of the story wherever they decide to go. I hope this helps a little bit. I know each person is different. My games seem to run better if I am doing more improv with only vague ideas of how to get from A to B. My players and me don't seem to have as much fun when everything is scripted.
   
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





By and large, you don't. Player agency is the whole point of RPGs. If you're going to lead them around by the nose, you might as well just write a novel.

What you do is have your story arc in place, and have some ideas for what to do when the players miss that vital left turn at Albuquerque, or opt to skip town instead of visit the person with the McGuffin. Then you just improvise until they reach a position where you can start a new story arc.

And it's often worth considering what happens when the players leave a story arc half-done. Imagine what Star Wars V and VI might have been like had PC's Solo and Chewie taken their payment straight to Jabba right away instead of hanging around Yavin for a while...

CHAOS! PANIC! DISORDER!
My job here is done. 
   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






Instead of writing the adventure from tje players perspective write it FIRST from the worlds perspective. Things are happening in the world wether the players act on it or not. So figure those things out.

THEN place your plot hooks for pulling the players into the web of intrigue or whatever.

When you write the adventure that way it becomes easy to adjust acording to what the players do because you know whats actually happening when the players are not there.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in us
Combat Jumping Ragik






Beyond the Beltway

 ScarletRose wrote:
I guess my issue is more with writing in general, how do I build a story when I just have an idea?
Don't build a story. Allow what the players do in-game to build the story. This means that you the GM have a general setting for the campaign- just an idea will do here -- and improvise based upon what the characters do. You'll need to take very good notes during the game, for continuity. You'll find it helpful to have read a lot of Sci Fi books when it comes to improvising.

 
   
Made in us
Unhealthy Competition With Other Legions




Philadelphia PA

Thank you all for the advice. I've started writing out some ideas for the various star systems in the cluster the PCs will start in. I'm sketching out some ideas for the planets, various terrain, economic activities, etc. and keeping it all in a notebook for easy reference.

Fleshing that out will help me figure out what the PCs might get involved in and hopefully give them a sense that there's other stuff going on in the setting.

   
Made in us
Combat Jumping Ragik






Beyond the Beltway

Cool. Once things get going, you can give us an update.

 
   
Made in us
Unhealthy Competition With Other Legions




Philadelphia PA

 Red Harvest wrote:
Cool. Once things get going, you can give us an update.


Thanks. I'm really trying to go all out on this - I'll have some miniatures, a sector map for the various planets, maybe even some props.

My group is currently in the middle of the Pathfinder 2nd Ed playtest so I have plenty of prep time to work everything out.
   
Made in us
Posts with Authority






I only recently read through the Razor Coast by Frog God Games, which uses an entirely different method for adventure design than I was used to.

Instead of having sequential encounters, it has a large number of encounters - arranged by increasing CR (this edition is for Pathfinder), and a sheet for the GM to note which of those encounters are going to be used in that session - so no two GMs are likely to run identical campaigns, but more that the GM can change things around to fit the players.

Setting it up one session at a time, pretty much the way things actually happen in most campaigns.

While Razor Coast is an excellent campaign, that format was, for me at least, a literal game changer - and I am stealing that method with joy in my heart.

The Auld Grump

Kilkrazy wrote:When I was a young boy all my wargames were narratively based because I played with my toy soldiers and vehicles without the use of any rules.

The reason I bought rules and became a real wargamer was because I wanted a properly thought out structure to govern the action instead of just making things up as I went along.
 
   
Made in us
Lead-Footed Trukkboy Driver



Olympia, WA

If I was doing a Star Wars campaign I'd definitely do at least a quick overview of Joseph Campbell and The Hero's Journey since that was really influential on the structure of the movies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero%27s_journey

If I Had a Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay 
   
Made in nl
Bounding Assault Marine






When preparing for a game night with a system as open as Star Wars (player characters starting with the resources like a starship capable of hyperspace travel, etc.) you might find it difficult to have them follow an established adventure line. If you don't want to railroad them through the adventure (as mentioned; write your novel instead of playing a player agency game) then how would you attract the players' attention to the adventure? There are a couple of options.

Translocation of the adventure.
So, the characters need to go into Mos Eisley on Tatooine, to get in a fight in the local bar, so they are now, officially, fugitives from the Law. Before they get to Mos Eisley, they board their YT-1300 Stock Light Freighter and go to Coruscant.
Why isn't there a bar on Coruscant in which they might run into a fight and clash with the Law? What makes the Tatooine situation so unique, that it couldn't happen on Nall Hutta? Jakku? Eriadu? The air-breather enclaves of the floating cities on Manaan? Must they run into Tusken Raider sand people, or could these just as well be Iskalonian freedom fighters with tridents instead of gaffi sticks? If you are flexible enough and know how to switch out locations and NPCs (even just using the stats of one, but reskinning them into the other) this is one easy way of handling player characters meant to go to A, but ending up on B.

Transfer of the McGuffin.
Here you thought the characters would be interested to enter the Tomb of Darth Malicious on Moraband (Korriban) and take her dreaded lightsaber by fighting through a horde of hostile archaeologists, sith monstrosities, random animals inhabiting the adandonned tomb, etc. Then they board their YT-1300 Stock Light Freighter and go to Corellia.
So, one of the first things to happen is, that some raving madman bumps into the characters on the streets, and "suddenly" one of them has an ancient lightsaber in his pockets. Instead of a sith monstrosity, the groups now has to contend with a cyborg who wants that very special power cell for his own bionics. Or instead of ravenous beasts there are Corellian street thugs who want the artifact to sell it for their own personal gain. There might still be rival archaeologists, now not intent on finding the weapon first, but prying it from cold, dead hands if necessary. The problem with transferring the McGuffin is, when the characters/players are totally not interested in the flavour of the week. They might hand the lightsaber over to the first group to demand it, just so they get rid of it. And avoid any violent encounters you'd have planned. This is why it is important to prepare with your player characters' obligations, duties, motivations, etc. in the back of your mind. It might lower the chance of the players rejecting the McGuffin. If the player characters don't go to A, have A come to them.

The living world.
Lance845 mentioned this. You first determine the course of events for the world. Start at point A, end at point E, and have B, C, and D escalate. Once you have that, determine how and where the player characters can make a difference (and to the extend of railroading, take away options, not choice). An example.
A - A droid uprising happens, and all space traffic is made impossible due to automated defenses now targeting every ship with life signs, or a planetary shield becomes active.
B - Big droids have their core reprogrammed, so they are capable of hurting organics without being Class-4 combat droids themselves. A nuisance becomes a voilent threat.
C - Civilians are being slaughtered, and the military cracks down on droids hard! Warfare starts, and the characters seem to be in the middle of it.
D - Droids cause the uprising to escalate to the point where the droids prefer permanent deactivation over abuse. They start to overheat the biggest geothermal power plant, affecting the molten planet core.
E - Everything goes boom!
Now think up when and how the characters may yet intervene. Where they fit into the story of the world. In 'A' they have little to do, so it seems. But what about social interactions with authorities just as baffled by the sudden turn of events? The sudden rush of people hoping to get off the planet and badgering the characters for room on their (just as limited now) starship? Will the characters now start an initiative to deactivate any planetary shield that prevents take off?
Characters acting in B might see a lot of combat against droids not normally suited for combat. Or are they? Heavy lifters throwing around land speeders? Welding droids attacking their targets with welding tools? If you go the (absurdly) humourous route, have small astromech droids fling screws, nuts and bolt at people like BB-8 threw up coins in the Last jedi.
During C, will the characters stand around like damsels in distress, waiting to be rescued by the military? Or are they military themselves (as evidenced by, for example, duty scores)? Are they drafted into a militia due to some local emergency law?
Getting to D, the characters might be motivated by the will to live, and a general call over some P.A. system for volunteers to enter the power station and prevent mass destruction. The military might be defeated, or too busy engaging the mass of droids, and combatting civilian mass hysteria.
Even E isn't automatically the end of the campaign and the death of the characters. This might turn into an escape scenario. When the planet is about to go boom, it doesn't mean it's instantaneous. use earthquakes and eruptions to endanger life in general. By now, a planetary shield might fail due to catastrophic environmental damage, or a defense system shuts down as power generators are destroyed in massive sinkholes. Even if the planet doesn't blow up at all, this might be an Extinction Level Event for the planet, the likes of which can be seen in Rogue One (single reactor ignition of the Death Star superlaser causing quite the uproar).

If the player characters start to act on A, that also doesn't mean they skip B through E entirely. Once they exit the Planetary Shield building, they might stare at a large collection of Big droids from B. Halfway through their path to the space port (and their ship), the characters witness the start of the military counter-offensive in C. That way they may still choose to be there for D, and E.

While it seems railroading, there is still some choice. You are not forcing the characters to act on A. They may simply choose to wait it out. You narrate shortly how the civil unrest is growing about the lock-down of space ports, and leave it at that. They may try to hide from B, by staying abord their ship, or hiding in buildings in or near the spaceport and wait for it all to blow over. Shortly narrate what the local news media report. And maybe have a droid or two start to tear down their starship on the outside. See if they remain passive about the situation. Or let them be, as ships can take some damage anyways. Rare are the players who haven't acted by now. Ignoring military actions by C might mean those attacks damage their starship. Or droid refugees want to take it over, involving the characters in the fight (slightly more railroading by now, but again, rare are the players...). What if one of the player characters is a droid when the military arrives?

The fact remains, that this Living World method allows for the players to choose when to get involved, and how. There should come a point where even the dullest player realizes his character could, even should, intervene.



Of course, it all starts with knowing your players, and their characters. No adventure survives contact with the player characters. When you give them options A, B, and C, they will always find D through ZZ. Search for threads on "railroading verses Sandboxing" and you will find plenty. More often than not, especially with games like Star Wars where the player characters have more options available, the ability of the Game Master to improvise or change setting/flavour makes or breaks the game progress. Depending on your players and their characters your milage may vary. Wildly.
   
Made in us
Member of the Ethereal Council




USA

 Lord Xcapobl wrote:
Spoiler:
When preparing for a game night with a system as open as Star Wars (player characters starting with the resources like a starship capable of hyperspace travel, etc.) you might find it difficult to have them follow an established adventure line. If you don't want to railroad them through the adventure (as mentioned; write your novel instead of playing a player agency game) then how would you attract the players' attention to the adventure? There are a couple of options.

Translocation of the adventure.
So, the characters need to go into Mos Eisley on Tatooine, to get in a fight in the local bar, so they are now, officially, fugitives from the Law. Before they get to Mos Eisley, they board their YT-1300 Stock Light Freighter and go to Coruscant.
Why isn't there a bar on Coruscant in which they might run into a fight and clash with the Law? What makes the Tatooine situation so unique, that it couldn't happen on Nall Hutta? Jakku? Eriadu? The air-breather enclaves of the floating cities on Manaan? Must they run into Tusken Raider sand people, or could these just as well be Iskalonian freedom fighters with tridents instead of gaffi sticks? If you are flexible enough and know how to switch out locations and NPCs (even just using the stats of one, but reskinning them into the other) this is one easy way of handling player characters meant to go to A, but ending up on B.

Transfer of the McGuffin.
Here you thought the characters would be interested to enter the Tomb of Darth Malicious on Moraband (Korriban) and take her dreaded lightsaber by fighting through a horde of hostile archaeologists, sith monstrosities, random animals inhabiting the adandonned tomb, etc. Then they board their YT-1300 Stock Light Freighter and go to Corellia.
So, one of the first things to happen is, that some raving madman bumps into the characters on the streets, and "suddenly" one of them has an ancient lightsaber in his pockets. Instead of a sith monstrosity, the groups now has to contend with a cyborg who wants that very special power cell for his own bionics. Or instead of ravenous beasts there are Corellian street thugs who want the artifact to sell it for their own personal gain. There might still be rival archaeologists, now not intent on finding the weapon first, but prying it from cold, dead hands if necessary. The problem with transferring the McGuffin is, when the characters/players are totally not interested in the flavour of the week. They might hand the lightsaber over to the first group to demand it, just so they get rid of it. And avoid any violent encounters you'd have planned. This is why it is important to prepare with your player characters' obligations, duties, motivations, etc. in the back of your mind. It might lower the chance of the players rejecting the McGuffin. If the player characters don't go to A, have A come to them.

The living world.
Lance845 mentioned this. You first determine the course of events for the world. Start at point A, end at point E, and have B, C, and D escalate. Once you have that, determine how and where the player characters can make a difference (and to the extend of railroading, take away options, not choice). An example.
A - A droid uprising happens, and all space traffic is made impossible due to automated defenses now targeting every ship with life signs, or a planetary shield becomes active.
B - Big droids have their core reprogrammed, so they are capable of hurting organics without being Class-4 combat droids themselves. A nuisance becomes a voilent threat.
C - Civilians are being slaughtered, and the military cracks down on droids hard! Warfare starts, and the characters seem to be in the middle of it.
D - Droids cause the uprising to escalate to the point where the droids prefer permanent deactivation over abuse. They start to overheat the biggest geothermal power plant, affecting the molten planet core.
E - Everything goes boom!
Now think up when and how the characters may yet intervene. Where they fit into the story of the world. In 'A' they have little to do, so it seems. But what about social interactions with authorities just as baffled by the sudden turn of events? The sudden rush of people hoping to get off the planet and badgering the characters for room on their (just as limited now) starship? Will the characters now start an initiative to deactivate any planetary shield that prevents take off?
Characters acting in B might see a lot of combat against droids not normally suited for combat. Or are they? Heavy lifters throwing around land speeders? Welding droids attacking their targets with welding tools? If you go the (absurdly) humourous route, have small astromech droids fling screws, nuts and bolt at people like BB-8 threw up coins in the Last jedi.
During C, will the characters stand around like damsels in distress, waiting to be rescued by the military? Or are they military themselves (as evidenced by, for example, duty scores)? Are they drafted into a militia due to some local emergency law?
Getting to D, the characters might be motivated by the will to live, and a general call over some P.A. system for volunteers to enter the power station and prevent mass destruction. The military might be defeated, or too busy engaging the mass of droids, and combatting civilian mass hysteria.
Even E isn't automatically the end of the campaign and the death of the characters. This might turn into an escape scenario. When the planet is about to go boom, it doesn't mean it's instantaneous. use earthquakes and eruptions to endanger life in general. By now, a planetary shield might fail due to catastrophic environmental damage, or a defense system shuts down as power generators are destroyed in massive sinkholes. Even if the planet doesn't blow up at all, this might be an Extinction Level Event for the planet, the likes of which can be seen in Rogue One (single reactor ignition of the Death Star superlaser causing quite the uproar).

If the player characters start to act on A, that also doesn't mean they skip B through E entirely. Once they exit the Planetary Shield building, they might stare at a large collection of Big droids from B. Halfway through their path to the space port (and their ship), the characters witness the start of the military counter-offensive in C. That way they may still choose to be there for D, and E.

While it seems railroading, there is still some choice. You are not forcing the characters to act on A. They may simply choose to wait it out. You narrate shortly how the civil unrest is growing about the lock-down of space ports, and leave it at that. They may try to hide from B, by staying abord their ship, or hiding in buildings in or near the spaceport and wait for it all to blow over. Shortly narrate what the local news media report. And maybe have a droid or two start to tear down their starship on the outside. See if they remain passive about the situation. Or let them be, as ships can take some damage anyways. Rare are the players who haven't acted by now. Ignoring military actions by C might mean those attacks damage their starship. Or droid refugees want to take it over, involving the characters in the fight (slightly more railroading by now, but again, rare are the players...). What if one of the player characters is a droid when the military arrives?

The fact remains, that this Living World method allows for the players to choose when to get involved, and how. There should come a point where even the dullest player realizes his character could, even should, intervene.



Of course, it all starts with knowing your players, and their characters. No adventure survives contact with the player characters. When you give them options A, B, and C, they will always find D through ZZ. Search for threads on "railroading verses Sandboxing" and you will find plenty. More often than not, especially with games like Star Wars where the player characters have more options available, the ability of the Game Master to improvise or change setting/flavour makes or breaks the game progress. Depending on your players and their characters your milage may vary. Wildly.


I find this really helpful.

I've taken it upon myself to try and build a Pokerole campaign only to learn that the reason people constantly struggle to find DM's for tabletop Pokemon systems is the daunting mix of stacks of prep work and "what if the Players don't even do the things I think they'll do and all these things I've prepared go right out the window." Reading this I realize I've been coming at the problem from the entirely wrong direction.

Thanks for this.
   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






One thing i read had a guy said he would write down all the clues the players were meant to get.

A journal as an example.

Then when he fealt it was a good time, he had them find the journal. He just MADE whatever room they went into next the room he wanted it to be. Instead of mapping out the whole town with exact locations he just made the general things he thought he might need and then built the city retroactively as the games needs demanded them.

If you are commited to the idea that the journal is in THAT room at these coordinates and the players must roll x to find it then chances are they wont even enter that building.

Just place your plot points where they need to be when they need to be.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

Good advise here. Let me echo the "You don't" crowd.

Instead of writing adventures, write hooks and settings and see which ones they want to explore. Then, improv it from there.

- When they think they know what is going on, change it

- Think, "Yes, and here is what happens next"

- Avoid, "No, you can't do that....." instead provide consequences or effects for that action. The players will not like all of them.

- Keep them guessing and add as many or as few complications as they can handle.

- If time is running low, you can wrap it up logically.

- Keep the spotlight moving from one player's character to the next

You will then have exciting adventures every time, and do it on the fly with little GM prep time.

Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






Its funny because every adventure module published is written in exactly the opposite way a dm should be running a game.

They SHOULD be publishing a tool box of traps monsters and rough scenerios with tips and tricks for how to incert them into a game and how best to use them AND how not to use them.

Instead its a strict time line with exact npcs and exact locations with fairly strict rail roading of the players down a specific path. Most dms want to run their own adventures and just do the work to pick out the pieces they like from these anyway. Why do they make these products this way?


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
Made in gb
Been Around the Block




 Lance845 wrote:
Its funny because every adventure module published is written in exactly the opposite way a dm should be running a game.

They SHOULD be publishing a tool box of traps monsters and rough scenerios with tips and tricks for how to incert them into a game and how best to use them AND how not to use them.

Instead its a strict time line with exact npcs and exact locations with fairly strict rail roading of the players down a specific path. Most dms want to run their own adventures and just do the work to pick out the pieces they like from these anyway. Why do they make these products this way?



This. Very much this.

When I gm, I tend to think in terms of certain events that will happen, but when and where they happen depends on the actions of the player group.

I tend to come up with a starting event, 4 or 5 "spectacular scenes" that i would like to use (might not use em all) and a general aim for how i want it to end. Every time I`ve used prewritten scenario its been a case of pull the best bits out of the book and work them in when I can (though admittedly, I did once run the entire, and i mean entire, Doomstones campaign fo9r whfrp pretty much as is).

Don`t get hung up on having a set path a to b,, I find its easier and more fun to have a rough idea of whats happening and then adapt as needed than to try to railroad your players.

Ultimately, RPGing is about choice and consequence. Removing players options by limiting the available routes through any particular scenario will end up with players feeling no sense of urgency, that their actions do not matter (though of course, do not be afraid to let your players actions lead to negative consequences for the world/setting, its how they`ll learn).

As to how to start, I generally let players make characters first, see if that suggests any interesting ideas and go from there. If not, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO CRIB FORM MOVIES/NOVELS etc.

   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant






I would love a series of books with each being based on a geographic type. Desert, Rainforest, Plains, etc etc...

1) Give traits and features for the types of people who live and survive in those terrains so you can lift those features to create your own towns/nations. Do this for both cities that could spring up in the area, nomads or tribal, and lower class peasant/farmer/whatever

Typical trade goods, resources, ways of life etc etc...


2) Then list wild life and monsters typical to the terrain with potential hooks for what these things might be doing or why they cause trouble or why the players might encounter them.

3) 2-3 examples of ancient civilizations that may have once inhabited such an area and the types of ruins that may have survived. Maybe create a few maps. Detail a few key rooms. But no monster or trap layouts. Just something to get your own thoughts brewing.

4) Trap/encounter/plot hook tool box. Go over those civilizations and ruins and give broad potential stories. Dungeon delving for richest or ancient artifacts. Intrigue in the cities. Trade routes under siege. Wars with rival nations. Include typical weather and weather extremes. Rules for extreme heat or cold, disease, toxins etc... as appropriate.



The series could include every major geographical terrain type on earth, underground, oceans, Inner and outer planes of existence,

A series like that would be a indispensable resource for me no matter what game system I play in.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/03/15 02:07:54



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.

 JohnHwangDD wrote:

The Nazis were right. It's better to be a Nazi than a fan.

Thank you for getting me on the side of Milo and the Nazis.

 
   
 
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