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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » Game Masters

Subject: Is it ok by asking players to help fill in some gaps .. rss

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Ed
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I decided to start running DnD at work every month and it's been a great experience so far. The group that I have is fresh to the RPG scene. I have GM'd before but only for 1shots that lasted an hour or two. My co-workers have enjoyed the sessions so far and want to continue to play as long as we can.
My question is, would it be fine to ask the players for some input for world\town building? For example, asking our monk player what he sees when he goes into an unknown town( ie giving him the moment to improvise a shop or temple) I know this seems lazy in a sense but I would like to get the cooperation of the players so they feel like they have a say in how this world looks. So in the end is this ok or should I scrap the idea and have everything preset?
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Alexandre Santos
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I do it all the time, but this depends on group consensus.

Try it and see how people feel about it.
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Clark Timmins
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So stop your cheap comment, 'Cause we know what we feel...
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Asking for that is not lazy. It's a good thing. It will get the players thinking about things and get them invested in the campaign. Plus, they'll invent stuff you would never think of on your own, leading to a richer campaign experience.

Make sure you retain "final say" though. It's not going to work well if a player comes up with a town and then tries to run the town when the characters show up. Players can help create, but the GM is still the GM.
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Ed
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Fantastic! Thanks :)
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Hans Messersmith
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I do this all the time myself, so there is nothing wrong with it. It works great for me.

The only caveat I would add is that there are some people that won't like this, for all kinds of reasons:

* They can't think on their feet very quickly.
* They are easily embarrassed or not very confident
* They want to only come up with stuff about their own character, coming up with stuff outside their character is not of interest or actively puts them out of the mood

So one thing I do is make it clear to the players that they can always turn the question back around to me if they don't want to answer it. In other words, they know if I ask the Monk "What does the town look like?" the Monk is completely ok to say "I don't know, Hans, what DOES the town look like?" and then I answer as the GM.

But yeah, some (many? most?) players really enjoy this kind of input in my experience.
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William Hostman
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ZOMBIFIED ed wrote:
My question is, would it be fine to ask the players for some input for world\town building?


Not just fair, but an excellent part of "best practices" for RPGs.
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Paul Unwin
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It's great to see the positive responses here. As noted, not everyone sees this as permissible. We can't say whether or not it will work with your players, but it definitely can work.

If you're looking for advice on the practice, I have some I'd be happy to offer.
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Ed
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I'd say spill the beans on what you know!
I have a session on Friday and hope to put em to use
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Paul Unwin
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Alright then. I'm on my phone, so I'll give an overview and you can ask for details if you want.

Ask leading questions that leave room for unusual answers.
Try to default to accepting the first answer you get, and then adding on to it.
Encourage players to be definite, rather than hesitant.
Encourage players to modify via addition, rather than negation.
Advise avoidance of absolutes.
Try to use newly established facts immediately and put the focus on them.
Be prepared to let go of your own ideas in favor of player ideas.
Don't force anyone to add ideas - but encourage them to if they're not enjoying your ideas.
Try to interconnect what the players establish, rather than having each player off on a different direction.
Discuss with the players the ways in which they like to be challenged and what they like to have at stake, and work with what they tell you.
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William Hostman
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To riff off Pauls excellent list...

Explain Paul's guidelines, especially hitting "Add, not negate."

One version this process, especially for those new to the idea, is to hand everyone a 4x6 card. Everyone puts down one kind of setting place of interest.
Pass the cards to the right. Everyone adds some detail. Repeat until everyone gets the card back that they started with. Read it, name it.

Repeat for setting factions.

If appropriate, repeat for personal nemesis.

If you're really brave, have everony write a campaign conceit. Shuffle them, deal them, have everyone add one line of opposition or goal... then shuffle, read them, and vote for which.

What is a campaign conceit? It's a one-liner that explains how and why the characters are together and what kind of adventures to play. Examples are: "Local heroes." "Mercs with hearts of gold." "The King's spies" "random folk united by imprisonment." "crew of a merchant ship."

Opposition or goal... "Dread Pirate Roberts" "We want to become rich and retire" "To become powerful Wizards" "to end the tyrant's reign" "The king's guard is looking for us."
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Phil Dutré
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Yes, of course, I do that as well.

Some more narrative-driven rpg's even have invented mechanisms around this, e.g. rotating the role of "narrator", or giving players votes or veto-tokens etc. Some systems even have evolved into GM-less systems, I would consider those more experimental though.

But I think a free-form style works better when coupled with a more traditional rules engine such as D&D.

However, as GM, I always keep the power to veto anything I don't like, but that seldom happens once you have outlined the type of setting and the players accept their role - i.e. co-creating the world, filling in gaps, but not being the master-creator or try to wrestle control of the major plotlines of the campaign that the GM is running :-)

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M. B. Downey
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enduran wrote:
Ask leading questions that leave room for unusual answers.


Yes, such as instead of asking "why is this town noteworthy" you ask "why do people say to avoid this town?" and then ask another player "what do the people that don't believe in that say is the real reason to avoid this town?"

Now you've established two possible, competing reasons that the town is avoided (or insert adjective of your choice) and that people rumor monger about it.
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Michael Ink
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I also recommend buying a copy of Beyond the Wall: Further Afield. It is an OSR game (1st ed. AD&D style) expansion book but it mostly has FANTASTIC rules for building a home town together, creating rumors by the other players and assigning an accuracy rating to these rumors, and getting inspiration from your players, all of which could work for any version of D&D, and many other fantasy rpgs.

Edited to correct the title of the book
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Inkwan wrote:
I also recommend buying a copy of Beyond the Wall: Further Afield. It is an OSR game (1st ed. AD&D style) expansion book but it mostly has FANTASTIC rules for building a home town together, creating rumors by the other players and assigning an accuracy rating to these rumors, and getting inspiration from your players, all of which could work for any version of D&D, and many other fantasy rpgs.

Edited to correct the title of the book


Interesting! Why has nobody done a review of this?!

JJW-T.C.H.
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Michael Ink
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jjwhite103 wrote:
Inkwan wrote:
I also recommend buying a copy of Beyond the Wall: Further Afield. It is an OSR game (1st ed. AD&D style) expansion book but it mostly has FANTASTIC rules for building a home town together, creating rumors by the other players and assigning an accuracy rating to these rumors, and getting inspiration from your players, all of which could work for any version of D&D, and many other fantasy rpgs.

Edited to correct the title of the book


Interesting! Why has nobody done a review of this?!

JJW-T.C.H.


Apparently I should! I couldn't find it before today because I kept looking for Beyond the Wall: Further Afield. I never just searched Further Afield.
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Hans Messersmith
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Inkwan wrote:
I also recommend buying a copy of Beyond the Wall: Further Afield. It is an OSR game (1st ed. AD&D style) expansion book but it mostly has FANTASTIC rules for building a home town together, creating rumors by the other players and assigning an accuracy rating to these rumors, and getting inspiration from your players, all of which could work for any version of D&D, and many other fantasy rpgs.
Somehow I missed Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures, Michael, thanks for that tip! I'm going to investigate that game, it looks intriguing.
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Kevin
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skalchemist wrote:
Inkwan wrote:
I also recommend buying a copy of Beyond the Wall: Further Afield. It is an OSR game (1st ed. AD&D style) expansion book but it mostly has FANTASTIC rules for building a home town together, creating rumors by the other players and assigning an accuracy rating to these rumors, and getting inspiration from your players, all of which could work for any version of D&D, and many other fantasy rpgs.
Somehow I missed Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures, Michael, thanks for that tip! I'm going to investigate that game, it looks intriguing.


I wrote a review of it here:
Small Is Beautiful

OP: I do this all the time. As many people have mentioned, not everyone is comfortable with this. Some people react very negatively -- they want to explore a world and any amount of worldbuilding pulls them out of their feeling of immersion. But in my experience, most people are okay with at least some of this. you can start small -- most players are comfortable describing their character. You can expand slightly:

- Where does your character come from?
- What is your family like? Your people's culture?
- Have you been to this tavern here? What's your relationship with the bartender?
- What does it look like when your character crits the ogre?

All those you can build off of pretty easily.
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Michael Ink
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dysjunct wrote:
skalchemist wrote:
Inkwan wrote:
I also recommend buying a copy of Beyond the Wall: Further Afield. It is an OSR game (1st ed. AD&D style) expansion book but it mostly has FANTASTIC rules for building a home town together, creating rumors by the other players and assigning an accuracy rating to these rumors, and getting inspiration from your players, all of which could work for any version of D&D, and many other fantasy rpgs.
Somehow I missed Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures, Michael, thanks for that tip! I'm going to investigate that game, it looks intriguing.


I wrote a review of it here:
Small Is Beautiful

OP: I do this all the time. As many people have mentioned, not everyone is comfortable with this. Some people react very negatively -- they want to explore a world and any amount of worldbuilding pulls them out of their feeling of immersion. But in my experience, most people are okay with at least some of this. you can start small -- most players are comfortable describing their character. You can expand slightly:

- Where does your character come from?
- What is your family like? Your people's culture?
- Have you been to this tavern here? What's your relationship with the bartender?
- What does it look like when your character crits the ogre?

All those you can build off of pretty easily.


Indeed you did! In fact, I might have bought it because of your review!

But, no review for Further Afield...yet.
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