Thread: Rules Only: Rails vs. Sandbox/Freeform
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Old July 20th, 2017, 08:28 PM
Keklas Rekobah Keklas Rekobah is offline
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I ran a campaign based on the Stargate franchise, and that used Traveller rules - mostly CT, but with some influence from MT, TNE, MgT, and lots of "Winging It". Some important things that I learned include . . .

Players want action. Give them something to do - something that involves taking risks, resolving conflicts, making profit, or simply saving their hides. Just remember than for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Negotiate a trade deal, and trigger a labor strike. Deliver the medical supplies, and offend the religious order. Save the princess, and precipitate a socialist revolt. Run away from the howling mob, and leave behind any hope of getting paid. Ask too many questions, and attract the too much attention. Operative Quote: "The distraction they've been ignoring is really the main action they've been avoiding."

Players want information. Give them maps. Give them descriptions. Give them photo-shopped images. Give them what they want, but don't give them everything they ask for. You have the UWP to a world with an an Ancients' site; but where is it? The man in the yellow hat is your contact; but these people have fifteen words for 'yellow', and each one means something different. You have the key; but where is the lock that it fits? Give the players the information they need in bits and pieces, and then leave it up to them to put all the pieces together in the right order, and to figure out what the missing pieces mean. Operative quote: "Too much knowledge is a dangerous thing."

Players want rewards. Unless your name is "Monty Haul", promise them anything, but make them work for it - and I mean blood, toil, sweat, and tears. They saved the world and earned a far trader? Sure. All they gotta do now is pay off a years' worth of storage fees, update their licenses, have the title transferred, and obtain an exit visa . . . or figure out a way to bypass all of these silly 'legalities' and take possession immediately, thus acquiring a bounty on their heads and a warrant for their arrest. One way or another, the player must pay for what they receive, so make them pay. Operative quote: "Make them pay; and if possible, make them pay again."

Players want choices. Choices have consequences. Cause-and-Effect is in play. Accept the Baron's offer to get paid for a little discrete burglary, fall for the waif's plea to return him to his family, or do another pick-up and delivery job for the going rate? One could get the PCs framed for murder, one could get them framed for kidnapping, and one could get them framed for smuggling - of course, each of these comes with a promise of tens of thousands of credits when the job is done, as well; and who's to say that the worst might actually happen? Besides, even if they do happen, give the PCs (just barely) enough time to find the real murderer, expose the kid's accomplices, and find out who the real smugglers are. Operative Quote: "Anything they do can bring them both rewards and penalties: Doing the Right Thing, Doing the Wrong Thing, Doing the Smart Thing, Doing the Stupid Thing, Doing Everything They Could Possibly Do, and even Doing Nothing At All."

And finally . . .

Shameless Shill for My Favorite Author: If you haven't yet read Howard Taylor's "The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries", I strongly recommend that you do. It contains valuable wisdom for players and referees alike.
"Keklas! What is your payoff in playing the role of Referee?"
"To challenge my friends, to see them playing before me, and to hear the lamentations of their characters."

Last edited by Keklas Rekobah; July 20th, 2017 at 08:31 PM.. Reason: Correcting spelling an punctuation errors.
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