Allowing players to « dictate » what happens in the game.

I’d like to explore the concept of sharing the storytelling with the players.

We’ve seen ChattyDM touch on the subject – mostly when playing with his kids. I’ve done so with my players by switching DMs just about every session.

I wonder what ways there are to weave the player’s creativity in the storyline without completely relinquishing control as a DM. In my experience, players like to be surprised by the storyline… and if they can flat out decide what’s going to happen next, they might not like it that much.

What Mr. Chatty did, with his kids is flat out ask them what they thought was going to happen. To my sense, this works wonders with children… and it sure did with his.

Asking them « who do you think is behind the door? », sharing their glee and excitement as they decide what happens next is great.

With more « mature » gamers (supposing these two terms can really coexist), I think they’d figure out the ruse.

What works is simply paying attention to their discussions.

In our latest game, we were given a precious mirror as loot and one of the players immediately started being distrustful – which generated a lot of discussion between the players and NPC.

At any time in there, the DM could decide that there is, in fact, something out of the ordinary with the mirror – even through it wasn’t planned. Maybe he can bring it up a few months later – after we convinced the dubious player that the mirror is merely treasure and that we forget all about the mirror. Or perhaps, there was so much buildup with the mirror that its even better if its just a plain mirror.

A lot of potential of incorporating player ideas in the storyline just in that little situation.

To recap that first little brainstorm in the subject, we could coin the following « rule » tip.

Engage your players into open speculations.

This should provide interesting material to hook your players in the storyline by having them participate even more in the game world.

Do you guys have other ideas to stimulate this kind of play?

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Les commentaires de 2 sur “Allowing players to « dictate » what happens in the game.

  1. I just flew over from Chatty’s, since I enjoy this discussion very much.

    The first thing I think is important to do, is to (nearly) always allow players to discuss their actions with each other. I’ve been in games where the GM restricted player communication in combat or in certain situations. Eg. « Marc is standing on the bridge between the towers, the wind is too loud there, so he can;t hear you. You cannot discuss your actions ». While this is nice and realistic and perfectly fine if you enjoy that, it will prevent players from sharing their thoughts with each other, and subsequently, prevent you from picking up on their ideas.

    Secondly, while it takes up a lot of time, I try to stimulate player monologues. If they are going to do something, and they truly have no one around them who adds anything useful to the making of a decision (think along the lines of a « I don’t know what this button does, shall I push it anyway), encourage players to explain what they think will happen when they do it. You need not necessarily fulfill these expectations, but if they are realistic and much cooler than what you had envisioned yourself, then why not?

    Finally, and this applies to our group specifically, whenever « the party » decides to do something, and one of them comes forward with the decision and tells me what they’re going to do, I always ask the more silent players and those who look like they doubt the decision, if they truly agree. Again, this is very time-consuming, since it usually fires the discussion up again, and we all know how long such discussions can take. But not only is it (to me) more fair to the more silent players, but it also allows me to keep track of what players expect will happen (or what they expect will not happen) and sometimes implement their ideas, altering the adventure on the spot, because their ideas were better.
    This applies specifically to our group since I have one player who tend to be « overruled » by others in group decisions, while he usually has great ideas… This guy needs to become a bit more assertive and dominant, but that’s a different discussion altogether.

    Yes, nice and long post. Hope you don’t mind, but these are my views on stimulating player participation in the storyline and sharing narrative control with more success. There are probably several other successfull methods, but this works for us.

  2. @Flying Dutchman :

    Hi! Thanks for dropping by!

    These are pretty good ideas. 

    Most of these occur naturally in my group (I’m a player) – guess I’m lucky 🙂 

    In fact, sometimes the discussions are so long, that I end up rolling wisdom checks on my impulsive then-bard to see if he’s fed up with the negotiations and just go ahead with his own plan.

    We once argued roughly 30 minutes about how to open a door – no doubt providing the DM with plenty of ideas on what to put on the other side 😛

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