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Episode 2458: Feudal Attraction


One class of problem I see often in various Dungeons & Dragons forums I frequent is represented by questions like:

The solution here is not to write a roleplaying campaign like you're writing a story. It's not a piece of fiction with a fixed outcome that you can plan in advance. There's a nugget of advice that is often told:

Don't write plots, write situations.

Don't have a "story" planned out in advance. Just give your players the situation they are currently in and let them react how they want. You can still have a Big Bad Guy's evil plot to overthrow the kingdom, but if your players want to open trade routes, that's fine. Let them do that and have fun with it, until the Bad Guy's plot starts to threaten their trade routes. And now they have a motive to react and do something about it. They don't even need to defeat the Bad Guy! They could also choose to move their trade to a different kingdom or somewhere else beyond reach. That's a perfectly valid adventure too. Don't write a plot, write the situation.

Don't plan Epic Showdowns. If your players manage to kill the Bad Guy early on, great! They're heroes, that's what heroes do! You shouldn't feel sad that they avoided your Epic Showdown, because ideally you shouldn't have planned such a thing in the first place. Don't write a plot, write the situation.

Campaigns that grow organically because of sometimes strange player choices are way more fun than trying to write a plot and being frustrated that the players aren't following it.

Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)

More Pete campaign lore! Hmmmmm. Dune maybe? Was Dune even out when this started? I might just be getting hung up on the word "barony". I can't think of anyone that'd count as an obviously evil priest though; everyone in Dune is at least a little bit evil on some level or another. Clearing the land of monsters also doesn't sound like Dune, unless the movies changed how the sandworms relate to the Spice.

Going with random stuff players come up with is loads of fun! They might even come up with even better ideas just arguing amongst themselves. Plus, "yes and"ing things is an excellent way to encourage everyone to participate. That can be tough at first, but it's how you can go from a simple negotiation to the downfall of a galactic community and what happens after. And then what happens after it all repeats again.


Rey: The priest was a clue that there was a growing evil presence on your doorstep.
Rey: You weren’t supposed to head over there and say, “How can we help?”
Rey: You were supposed to administer the keep as a bastion of civilisation against the lurking darkness of the wilderness.
Rey: Then build up a power base by clearing the land of monsters, establishing communities, and growing in influence.
Rey: Until you manage a whole barony and get rich and powerful through the labour of your population!
Kylo Ren: That just sounds like evil with extra steps.
GM: You keep saying “supposed to”, Pete. I began this campaign with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan “supposed to” negotiate a peace agreement.
Rey: Your point?
GM: Trying to write a story and have players follow it is the biggest mistake I ever made. Players doing weird stuff is great!
[SFX]: door
Poe: Hey, everyone! We’re here!
GM: Don’t repeat that in front of Jim.

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Published: Sunday, 28 April, 2024; 02:11:02 PDT.
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