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D&D 3E
D20, but not D&D, question 
31st-Jul-2006 11:52 am
I'm in the process of writing a campaign (that will probably never get played, but I'm writing it anyway) for a pirate RPG. I wanted to start the characters out sort of like in the movie Captain Blood, where all the characters are convicts in England about to be sentenced to death, but are sent to be slave labor in Jamaica instead. Here's my question: is this "railroading" the characters? My adventures have been accused (and rightly so, I admit) of being too linear, and I want to get away from that. I was thinking that during character generation, I'd tell everyone to make characters with the assumption that they were convicts, but stil...
(Deleted comment)
31st-Jul-2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
Voodoo magic exists, but that's it. The game is Skull and Bones, and it's set during the Golden Age of Piracy, which is about 1690 to 1720, so no druids, wizards, etc. I was gonna have the players come up with their own reasons for being convicts, and have them work it in with their character class if they wanted.

But alas, no one in my gaming group is interested. Maybe now that they've seen the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie they'll be more into it.
31st-Jul-2006 04:44 pm (UTC)
I think you're fine with giving them the forced character hooks. You're only setting up the situation. I think of railroading more as forcing them in a direction each step of the way. Forcing them to be pirates for the entire campaign may be a bit much. If that is your intent, then you may want to warn them ahead of time. If you don't care what they do once they get the ship and "escape", then no warning is needed.
31st-Jul-2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
Hey, have you read the adventure?!?!? (Maybe you've seen the movie?) But yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I had in mind. THanks for the input.
31st-Jul-2006 05:55 pm (UTC)
I wouldnt consider it railroading as long as it is made clear at the begining. I always thought the hardest part of making a game is getting the pc's together to start. I like the idea of a railroad style opening but then giving a lot of flexibility once they are a "team"

I am kicking around an idea of starting the pc's out as the only survivors of town that was overrun by zombies. They would start out as 0-level children and with a little "montage" early on they would become 1st level. That way they all have a reason to be a team, finding the man that ordered the attack. :)
31st-Jul-2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
Sometimes as a DM, GM, whatever, you have to force the storyline. One of my favorite games I played in (at a convention) started the players out as slaves in a mine working for humanoid masters. I used this idea later as the start of a campaign of mine and all the players enjoyed it. Basically, the characters had been drugged and the masters were starting to forget to feed the drugs to the PCs.

I try not to railroad characters but sometimes you must, and they understand that if they don't follow your storyline, there is no story and you can all go home early.
31st-Jul-2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
Start of the game is the one bit where the PCs don't have much choice.
Picture "You meet up in a bar' 'But I don't go to bars'" etc. You're telling them first which is sensible. 'Tis all good.

We had a Fading Suns game that started similarly, with us being packed off to a prison planet. Our individual intros were the story of how we got into the mess in the first place. Some were real offences some were false accusations etc so there was still total freedom in generation etc it was just that we had to be prepared to go along with the being caught thing. We never actually got to the prison planet, we crashed on the way:> It wasn't clear before hand that that was what was going to happen though we were expecting something like "Fortress" or "Wedlock". Good game.
31st-Jul-2006 11:07 pm (UTC)
As others have said, telling the PCs where they start off isn't railroading. So I wouldn't worry about it.

It'll also help if you keep in mind that just because they're being sent as slaves to Jamaica doesn't mean they're convicts. Maybe they owe a debt to someone. Maybe they pissed off a possible BBEG. Maybe they've been framed. Maybe they are honest-to-god criminals. I'd tell the characters that they all start out in a Jail together, and let them come up with reasons why. Those reasons could then help shape the campaign. So if everyone was wrongly accused, then you get the game where they're trying to prove their innocence, rather than running off an plundering the nearest town. See? No longer railroading!
1st-Aug-2006 01:52 am (UTC)
And the one real criminal coming along to make sure they fail, so they can't pin everything on him and make him hang.
1st-Aug-2006 03:35 am (UTC)
i think your fine. and as much as that kind of sucks i dont think its too wrong if its an important plot tool at the begining of a camopaign. if none of the pc's know each other or have a comman goal sometimes you have to force them together and sometimes its better to put them in a situation where they need each other and hope the need blossoms into loyalty and friendship than to just say "ok guys your all old buddys even the chaotic nutral rogue and the lawfull good paladin and just because the druid feels that all of the citys should be burnt to the ground doesent mean he cant be the best friends with the bard who loves the hustle and bustle of a big town."lots of stories start with an unlikely band who forge a friendship thru adversity "dollars to doughnuts says i spelled that wrong" as long as you let them come up with there own charicters you can let them screw up,frame them,give them a case of mistaken identaty or have them at the wrong place at the right time( paladin goes to help a girl who has been beaten in the streets and is found holding her right when the watch shows up and has absolutley no aliby yet the dukes grandson who's ass you just handed to him for said crime suddenly does). its not as free wheeling as just letting the players find there own way but honestly that rarely works and sometimes you have to force em in a direction or nothing ever happens
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