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dream
2015-07-26, 08:48 PM
Gamemasters:

If you prep encounters for players, do you consider what the players want? What the characters want? Say you have a power-gamer who loves anything that makes his/her PC more amazing. Do you think,

"Now, my power-gamer's going to want a new (fill-in-the-blank item) so I'll make sure the (fill-in-the-blank foe) has that on-hand. Spoils of war!"

Or say you have a player who loves puzzles. Do you think,

"Hmm. My puzzler will be looking for clues at this next location, so I'll make sure to add some red herrings and a piece of good evidence."

What about the character? If you have a PC with a serious fetish for combat do you think,

"Uh oh, Ralgron's twitching again. Time to throw a little combat op at the party."

What about a mage/scientist type who is always searching for new text? Do you think,

"Okay, Sherlock just survived a rough combat. Time to produce some arcane documents requiring careful examination."

For GMs who don't prep and run mainly on improv, do you keep player or PC wants in mind, or is it more of an obstacle? Am I the only GM that considers this? Which seems more important in your opinion: player wants or the desires of the characters? Both? Neither?

Finally; what about the Gamemaster? Is the adventure the GM's "baby"? Should the GM design encounters based almost completely on what they find entertaining? Have you ever done that and if so, was it personally rewarding? Are there moments within our hobby where GM fun & player fun are mutually-exclusive?

All comments are appreciated and I'm interested in the player perspective as well.

TheCountAlucard
2015-07-26, 09:16 PM
Gamemasters:

If you prep encounters for players, do you consider what the players want?Hell yes.


What the characters want?When it makes sense, yes.

Just note that "consider" doesn't mean "unilaterally decide on."


For GMs who don't prep and run mainly on improv, do you keep player or PC wants in mind, or is it more of an obstacle?A little of column A, a little of column B.


Am I the only GM that considers this?I sure hope not!


Which seems more important in your opinion: player wants or the desires of the characters?The player, definitely. The player's a real person and is really sitting at your table and is really your friend.


Finally; what about the Gamemaster? Is the adventure the GM's "baby"?Not entirely. Babies generally don't work that way. The whole point with babies is that someone else contributes some material at the beginning and it grows from there. :smalltongue:


Should the GM design encounters based almost completely on what they find entertaining?The GM is absolutely free to completely disregard the interests of his players... if the GM's okay with the possibility of GMing to an empty table. :smalltongue:


Have you ever done that and if so, was it personally rewarding?When I was younger and less experienced, yes. The "rewarding" part was the lesson I learned: GMing is about give and take.


Are there moments within our hobby where GM fun & player fun are mutually-exclusive?Yes, but most of the mutually-exclusive ones are going to be from asshattery, like the GM deciding that not turning your magic items over to the nightmarish Orwellian government automatically downshifts your alignment to Baby-Eating Chaotic Evil and renders you ineligible as a player character.

Phoenixguard09
2015-07-26, 09:21 PM
I'll bite here.

Yeah, I will certainly keep in mind what a player wants to see or have happen. But then I run my games as if they are stories that my group would want to read, with the added bonus that they are the protagonists.

I certainly weigh more towards the player rather than the character, but often those two things drift together into the one anyway, so in my experience it is probably a bit of a moot point anyway.

I try to keep an open mind when prepping encounters and the like, but I probably do find myself trapped in what I think I would enjoy. So far I don't think that's been an issue with my group though. I have a wide enough variety of interests that maybe it isn't noticeable.

As to moments where GM and player fun are mutually exclusive, it depends on the school of GM'ing you belong to. I personally want to see my players succeed and be awesome, so I daresay that we have very few moments where we are not having fun. If the players are having fun and feeling good about themselves, then I am too. Even if they just blew up my lovingly detailed mountain fortress with guano.

If, on the other hand, they are feeling useless, I need to lift my game. Luckily, I also enjoy challenges, so I find this fun too.

Hope that answered some questions,

Amphetryon
2015-07-26, 09:40 PM
My experience:

The DM who takes the Players' desires, or the Characters' desires, into consideration in plotting adventures, loot, and encounters will hear complaints at the table of how artificial and 'convenient' things are, when the Ghost Touch sword just 'happens' to be available when the Characters and/or Players have found that they need such an item, or the person they're looking for 'happens' to show up in town or, at least, in the rumor mill, or how curious it is that encounters are so very often right about within the Characters' wheelhouse of 'challenging but fair' fights.

The DM who ignores the Players' desires, or the Characters' desires, in plotting adventures, loot, and encounters will here complaints at the table of how difficult it is for the PCs to get anything they actually want, or accomplish any goals that they care about. The equipment they need for the next adventure is annoyingly difficult to come by, or forces them to invest in Crafting Feats, or turns out to be less well-suited to the desired task than they'd thought. The person they'd like to find is maddeningly far off-screen and out of reach. Encounters are either curbstomps on their behalf, force them to expend more resources than they'd prefer, or make them flee for their lives more often than they would like.

goto124
2015-07-26, 10:00 PM
The former is not merely 'The DM who takes the Players' desires, or the Characters' desires, into consideration', that's the DM sucking up to the players in the extremes.

Earthwalker
2015-07-27, 05:39 AM
How to plan an encounter from the laziest GM alive. (Which I think concerns giving players what they want)

I am currently running a space adventure fate game. The players needed to break into a corporate research centre and find and rescue a captured alien. They knew the co-ordinates of the base but nothing else so decided they would do some checking into the base before going in (a sensible idea but something that can be annoying in Fate) some rolls are made(contacts, investigate what have you) and they found out some of the bases aspects.

At this stage I hand the players a blank card told them to write some aspects of the base and went to make a new pot of coffee and get the puddin ready. You always need puddinÖ.mmmm Eaton mess.
I got back into the room and looked at the card, here are the aspects my players wrote on the card

Nothing is nailed down
Cat Posters everywhere
Puzzle Doors
Radio Silence
High tech Machines Everywhere
Robot Security.

Doesnít that just look like a list players would produce, the radio silence is because the players know the corporation that owns the facility has a war ship in low orbit and so they donít want signals getting out.

I decide to run with what the players want.

About 50 years ago the site of the facility was a mine which long since ran dry. The Corporation decided to use the same site (basically a hole in the ground) for its replicant pet division (Cat posters everywhere). Over time and changes in laws on the planet mean that they moved more experimental R&D here (high tech machines everywhere). Now the need for new labs meant they took an odd path of having prefab labs that would just slot in and out of the base when needed(nothing nailed down). With the structure of the place changing constantly security was a nightmare for human operatives so they use Robot Security, also working out what security level is needed for each door became equally hard. So the room behind the door sends information to the lock. This information is used as quiz questions to open the door. Want to get into the replicant research lab, well you better know a lot about replicants. Want to get into your own quarters better know a lot about yourself. (Puzzle Doors)

It was an odd list but I think I got it to work.

I have to say there is nothing like a situation where the Players hear a robot patrol approaching so they are trying desperately to describe the perfect way to make egg custard to get into the kitchen and out of sight of the robot patrol.

I would say thatís giving the players what they want. If their characters arenít getting what they want, thatís on the players surly.

Amphetryon
2015-07-27, 06:06 AM
The former is not merely 'The DM who takes the Players' desires, or the Characters' desires, into consideration', that's the DM sucking up to the players in the extremes.

The former of which, and how did you arrive at this conclusion?

DigoDragon
2015-07-27, 08:28 AM
My experience finds that there is usually some overlap between player and character desires. If you're not sure you can always ask the players before the campaign start for their opinion.

dream
2015-07-28, 08:41 AM
Seems I'm not alone in my thinking on this, which is great.


My experience:

The DM who takes the Players' desires, or the Characters' desires, into consideration in plotting adventures, loot, and encounters will hear complaints at the table of how artificial and 'convenient' things are, when the Ghost Touch sword just 'happens' to be available when the Characters and/or Players have found that they need such an item, or the person they're looking for 'happens' to show up in town or, at least, in the rumor mill, or how curious it is that encounters are so very often right about within the Characters' wheelhouse of 'challenging but fair' fights.

The DM who ignores the Players' desires, or the Characters' desires, in plotting adventures, loot, and encounters will here complaints at the table of how difficult it is for the PCs to get anything they actually want, or accomplish any goals that they care about. The equipment they need for the next adventure is annoyingly difficult to come by, or forces them to invest in Crafting Feats, or turns out to be less well-suited to the desired task than they'd thought. The person they'd like to find is maddeningly far off-screen and out of reach. Encounters are either curbstomps on their behalf, force them to expend more resources than they'd prefer, or make them flee for their lives more often than they would like.
Yep. I've run into this often, normally when gaming with a newer group.


The former is not merely 'The DM who takes the Players' desires, or the Characters' desires, into consideration', that's the DM sucking up to the players in the extremes.
Is that a terrible thing though?


How to plan an encounter from the laziest GM alive. (Which I think concerns giving players what they want)

I am currently running a space adventure fate game. The players needed to break into a corporate research centre and find and rescue a captured alien. They knew the co-ordinates of the base but nothing else so decided they would do some checking into the base before going in (a sensible idea but something that can be annoying in Fate) some rolls are made(contacts, investigate what have you) and they found out some of the bases aspects.

At this stage I hand the players a blank card told them to write some aspects of the base and went to make a new pot of coffee and get the puddin ready. You always need puddinÖ.mmmm Eaton mess.
I got back into the room and looked at the card, here are the aspects my players wrote on the card

Nothing is nailed down
Cat Posters everywhere
Puzzle Doors
Radio Silence
High tech Machines Everywhere
Robot Security.

Doesnít that just look like a list players would produce, the radio silence is because the players know the corporation that owns the facility has a war ship in low orbit and so they donít want signals getting out.

I decide to run with what the players want.

About 50 years ago the site of the facility was a mine which long since ran dry. The Corporation decided to use the same site (basically a hole in the ground) for its replicant pet division (Cat posters everywhere). Over time and changes in laws on the planet mean that they moved more experimental R&D here (high tech machines everywhere). Now the need for new labs meant they took an odd path of having prefab labs that would just slot in and out of the base when needed(nothing nailed down). With the structure of the place changing constantly security was a nightmare for human operatives so they use Robot Security, also working out what security level is needed for each door became equally hard. So the room behind the door sends information to the lock. This information is used as quiz questions to open the door. Want to get into the replicant research lab, well you better know a lot about replicants. Want to get into your own quarters better know a lot about yourself. (Puzzle Doors)

It was an odd list but I think I got it to work.

I have to say there is nothing like a situation where the Players hear a robot patrol approaching so they are trying desperately to describe the perfect way to make egg custard to get into the kitchen and out of sight of the robot patrol.

I would say thatís giving the players what they want. If their characters arenít getting what they want, thatís on the players surly.
I like the card idea. Stealing it!


My experience finds that there is usually some overlap between player and character desires. If you're not sure you can always ask the players before the campaign start for their opinion.
I always try to start like with pre-game expectations. What players want from the game and for their PCs. Not having that initial "fact-finding" session has been way too problematic for me.

NichG
2015-07-28, 09:32 AM
Generally what I try to keep in mind is the table mood, as well as the general degree of attention and involvement of the players. Its not so much about what the players directly want, as much as the things that will work with their mood. If everyone is frustrated OOC, I'll hold off on more potentially frustrating elements or at least delay them till the next session. If there was just a big peak point and everyone is excited, I'll try to wind down without having too much in the way of things that can break the mood, so that the session ends on that note and the mood carries through the week.

The other thing I keep in mind is each player's hooks - the things which they respond strongly to, and which I can pretty easily predict the response. If their interest in the game is flagging or they're getting distracted, I can throw in something that calls to their hook. Since I know how they respond to it, I can also use one player's hook to break party-wide stagnation (e.g. if no one can agree what to do, I'll throw in a call to their hook and it'll create movement that will tend to drag the other players along with). The hooks are not always just 'what the player wants', just what they respond strongly to.

Eisenheim
2015-07-28, 10:00 AM
I try to build encounters, and more importantly whole adventures, for both the players and the PCs, and those really should be the same thing.

Character creation is your players best and most extensive opportunity to show you what they want out of the game. If a player takes a lot of contacts and social skills, they want intrigue. If one makes a master of a dozen different weapons, they want encounters where weapons choice is important.

A good game is one where all the players and the GM agree about what's interesting and important, and that kind of game will have encounters and a larger plot that fit the characters, because the characters fit the game, and the players picked that game to begin with.

Cealocanth
2015-07-28, 01:32 PM
Gamemasters:

If you prep encounters for players, do you consider what the players want? What the characters want?

...

For GMs who don't prep and run mainly on improv, do you keep player or PC wants in mind, or is it more of an obstacle? Am I the only GM that considers this? Which seems more important in your opinion: player wants or the desires of the characters? Both? Neither?

Both, usually. I prepare for what the players want, and usually what the players want is to see their character get what the character wants. Nothing is more disappointing than designing a character around a single revenge story and then never getting the chance for that encounter. By contrast, nothing is more satisfying for seeing your character excel at what they were designed to do. In the rare case that player desires and PC desires do not line-up, such as when the party fighter decides to make an investigator for a change, go with the player wants. I hate seeing a player bored with their character because they were made for situations that never arrive.


Finally; what about the Gamemaster? Is the adventure the GM's "baby"? Should the GM design encounters based almost completely on what they find entertaining? Have you ever done that and if so, was it personally rewarding? Are there moments within our hobby where GM fun & player fun are mutually-exclusive?

The adventure is the GM's baby, but that doesn't mean that the players don't get to participate in the making thereof. I have seen too many times in which a GM comes up with a brilliant idea for a game, but it falls apart because the players don't want to play in that adventure or that game world. There's not much that can be done here unless the GM caves and plays the game the players want to play (although it does get more complicated when the players say they want something but actually want something else). As a GM, I have fun if my players are having fun.

HolyCouncilMagi
2015-07-28, 02:03 PM
Not entirely. Babies generally don't work that way. The whole point with babies is that someone else contributes some material at the beginning and it grows from there. :smalltongue:

I mean... Maybe that isn't whole campaigns, but good adventure arcs at least do seem to work like babies in my experience. The GM provides the place to grow (wait, I thought the GM was god, now he's mom too!?), the players insert some material (their choices/actions), and then the adventure grows based on the interaction between the setting and the player's choices as consequences form from the players actions and individual decisions go on to have repercussions.

This assumes a good GM, of course. It's very easy to decide that you know what's best for the baby and not let the players have any input beyond being there, but that results in unhappiness for the players, a shell of adversity for the GM, and a sick baby.

... Did I just reference gene splicing in this analogy? I'm a terrible human being.

BootStrapTommy
2015-07-28, 06:48 PM
Yes, but most of the mutually-exclusive ones are going to be from asshattery, like the GM deciding that not turning your magic items over to the nightmarish Orwellian government automatically downshifts your alignment to Baby-Eating Chaotic Evil and renders you ineligible as a player character.Wait a second, that sounds familiar... >.>

3SecondCultist
2015-07-29, 06:38 AM
The card idea is neat, and something I'll have to consider in future gaming with my own players.

As far as concerns about tailoring adventures to players goes, usually this happens for me on a broader scale. I always test the waters first with my prospective player base (whether on the forums or at the table) about the kind of game I'll be running: the genre, the general mood, the playstyle. I'm lucky to play with my IRL friends, who are flexible enough to take on lots of different characters. That way, when the game starts there's usually some kind of notion about what will happen.

Within the game itself, I like to mix things up a lot. And most of my players know this in advance. If I feel as though things are slow, I'll throw down a combat. If they've been fighting loots of mooks and boss enemies, let's have a puzzle game! Variety is good, and I'm very lucky to have players who are accepting of that. At the risk of spoiling things, I tend to drop hints between my sessions about the nature of what I think the next session will be like. This doesn't work for every game, though.

One of the things I've found invaluable as a GM is the ability to set up choices for the party to make as a group. For instance, the first session of a sea-based game I ran began with the PCs being elected to sit on a council that was running a city-state on the back of a monstrous turtle. The Council was made up of a silver dragon, a marid, and a bunch of powerful mortals who had set up their chamber around the pool of the ambiguously neutral alien aboleth that was secretly controlling the turtle and keeping it on the surface. Basically, the Council voted on important issues, and the aboleth directed the turtle's movements with its Enslave ability as a result. Immediately, the players had power, and the ability to make meaningful choices. It got even better when a storm giant emperor threatened the city unless they found his missing daughter, and the Council fractured, leaving the PCs to more or less make their own decisions. They had tons of options: looking in different areas using different methods, which would usually change the kinds of encounters they had moving forward.

Sacrieur
2015-07-29, 11:45 AM
For GMs who don't prep and run mainly on improv, do you keep player or PC wants in mind, or is it more of an obstacle? Am I the only GM that considers this? Which seems more important in your opinion: player wants or the desires of the characters? Both? Neither?

Obstacle? No. It's not an obstacle but rather a distraction. I try to scale the power level within reason much like as happens in Skyrim, but to a much lesser degree. I build the world, they're inside of the world and have full run of the place. I get told very often that I'm actually making things too difficult for my players.

Point in case: last session they managed to get a reward from a lord of a region. He gave them 10% profit of a sapphire mine. So when the PCs get there they find the mine was closed down, the place was destitute, and no one seemed keen on reopening. Our two bards find out that the place is suspected to be haunted and I took it a step up by retconning it into being haunted (out of whim). Some letter from the prince and the church closing it down after a cleric never came back out after investigating it.

Now then, instead of venturing into the mine and ending the evil, the players argued that I was ruining world consistency because I already said the reason the mine was closed was due to structural integrity. I thought it would be a fun bit of dungeoning, but I got carried away with making an adventure. I caved and changed it back to people just being superstitious. No harm done. But little stuff like this does happen quite a bit in an open world so I take into account the world is there for them but also they're in a world and it's going to generate the way it does in my head. I think they have a very high standard for my ability to improv and world build, so it's not like they're displeased with me or anything; they're just holding me accountable for world consistency.



Finally; what about the Gamemaster? Is the adventure the GM's "baby"? Should the GM design encounters based almost completely on what they find entertaining? Have you ever done that and if so, was it personally rewarding? Are there moments within our hobby where GM fun & player fun are mutually-exclusive?

Nah it's for them. As much effort as I put into it I've never viewed it as something that's my creation. It's a creation and their actions build the world just as much as mine. I suppose I have a talent for world building so there's always that going in my favor.

One of my best moments was when a player remarked that he was afraid I was going to develop multiple personalities in real life. When you can RP several different people with completely different personalities all at the same time with zero preparation and feel players immersed into it, that's the best right there. I've had players actually feel as their characters would in certain situations. For instance I have a particular lord who is a serious force to be reckoned with. During a monologue I had everyone holding their breath and on their toes. Those are the moments I live for.

goto124
2015-07-29, 07:27 PM
Why couldn't you make the mines both haunted and have structural integrity problems? Heck, the former could've let to the latter!

Sacrieur
2015-07-29, 09:43 PM
Why couldn't you make the mines both haunted and have structural integrity problems? Heck, the former could've let to the latter!

Because it wasn't planned out from the start. The mines being shut down because of structural integrity problems was consistent with the world because I came up with it when I created them. But the haunted part was made up on the spot and lacked internal consistency of the world.

Consider that the provincial governor, while corrupt and sadistically evil, offered the mines as a reward for the heroes service in help of ridding him with a pretty big problem. It wouldn't make sense of him to do something in direct defiance of the church and prince.

Knaight
2015-07-29, 10:20 PM
As regards taking the players into account, at least in my group the group as a whole decides what game is getting played in the first place. Sure, some people (those willing to GM, which in this case means particularly me) have disproportionate influence, but the reason we're playing a space opera game instead of a bleak street-level sci-fi game right now is the player group as a whole.

Winter_Wolf
2015-07-30, 07:15 PM
Considering that players are generally in charge of their characters, I'll take players' desires into account because that's what makes sense to me.

GM's babies are terrible adventures from my experience. If I can't stand to see my creation taken in directions I hadn't intended and/or have a problem with, i need to either shelve it or rework it. I've shelved a few in my time, and had I been more experienced I'd have shelved a few more than that. I've reworked a few too, but my npcs suffer a little for it unless I kind of want them to meet horrible ends. If I like an npc too much it's hard to let them get destroyed by murderhobos.

goto124
2015-07-30, 08:55 PM
I take a sadistic pleasure in seeing my NPCs get their limbs ripped out ('now THAT is disarming!') and their knees pierced by arrows.

Darth Ultron
2015-07-31, 12:00 AM
I often don't bother to set things up directly for the characters. Unless I know the player is a good role player, it could be a waste of time. If Jack is a boring hack and slasher type player, with a dwarf character, he won't even blink if told about a missing dwarven item. Jack will just be like ''whatever, can I kill, loot, and repeat some more now?". But setting things up for the player always works. Jack will always go for easy loot, for example. And it does not matter what character Jack might be playing, even the good monk with the vow of poverty, will go for loot.

dream
2015-07-31, 12:36 AM
Excellent. Now that I have your attention, I can pose the real question I meant to post. It took me a few days to get the wording down:smalltongue:

What are your opinions of Player Types? While I'm sure he didn't invent the concept, Robin Laws wrote a book, Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering, which focuses on the subject of player types. I found it informative, but questionable, initially. But, when I tried to classify the players I was running games for after reading the book, I found Laws was right. Players do have certain types. Do many of them reflect several types? Yes, but I've found that if I stare-down how a specific player makes decisions during a session, one type will emerge dominant among the others the player demonstrates.

Some of Laws' example types were Power-Gamers, Specialists, and Method Actors. He also listed ways to craft encounters and adventures based on player type. I tried it and it was like bowling strikes with every throw: players really responded positively to scenes and encounters that nudged at whatever type they were.

Now. Anyone familiar with player types? Is it nuts? Coincidence? Anyone try what this at their table? I am not suggesting that all players fall neatly into one possible category of play-style/type every time they play RPGs. I am looking for other GMs' experiences and opinions on Player Type. All civil, mature comments are appreciated.

NichG
2015-07-31, 09:23 AM
I don't play with a diverse enough set of players that classifying into broad types is all that useful for my thought processes. Currently, I'm running a game with only three players (who I've played with before), so that gives me the opportunity to see each player in terms of their individual motivations and interests. For each of those players, I've run games, played in games they've run, and played along side them in someone else's game. Given that I've known all of them for more than 5 years, it feels like going towards a type classification would be really oversimplifying (but that is because I know so much about each of them).

Sacrieur
2015-07-31, 02:48 PM
Excellent. Now that I have your attention, I can pose the real question I meant to post. It took me a few days to get the wording down:smalltongue:

What are your opinions of Player Types? While I'm sure he didn't invent the concept, Robin Laws wrote a book, Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering, which focuses on the subject of player types. I found it informative, but questionable, initially. But, when I tried to classify the players I was running games for after reading the book, I found Laws was right. Players do have certain types. Do many of them reflect several types? Yes, but I've found that if I stare-down how a specific player makes decisions during a session, one type will emerge dominant among the others the player demonstrates.

While I have one or two who fit a profile, I have another who spans three types and another two that defy it altogether.



Some of Laws' example types were Power-Gamers, Specialists, and Method Actors. He also listed ways to craft encounters and adventures based on player type. I tried it and it was like bowling strikes with every throw: players really responded positively to scenes and encounters that nudged at whatever type they were.

It's an interesting basis for creating an adventure. The premise is that you need to identify what really gives each player an emotional kick and pander to it in order to make the game as entertaining as you can. I think the best takeaway from the book is that the types just exist to get you thinking, not as a framework for which to build upon.